Germany denied several arms shipments to Turkey in past months – reports

Germany denied several arms shipments to Turkey in past months – reports
The German government has refused to export military supplies to its NATO partner Turkey on a number of occasions over the past several months due to fears that the weapons could be used against the Turkish population, German media reports.

According to a letter from the Ministry of Economic Affairs cited by Sueddeutsche Zeitung, a total of eleven applications for arms deliveries to Turkey have been blocked by Germany’s federal authorities. The letter, in which the ministry was reportedly answering questions from leftist lawmaker Jan van Aken, stated that the rejected requests had all come in the period from November 2016 to March of this year – roughly over 4 months. 

By comparison, Germany only rejected eight arms shipments to Turkey in the 5-year-period between 2010 and 2015, according to the outlet. 

The latest applications involved handguns, ammunition, and parts for the manufacture of certain armaments, the newspaper reported.

As a NATO partner, Turkey is legally entitled to apply for arms exports from members of the alliance. However, since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and the crackdown that followed, European officials have been increasingly concerned with Turkey’s record on human rights, democracy, and freedom of the press. 

Observing human rights is of particular importance with respect to arms export decisions,” a ministry official said in his reply to van Aken, while explaining that, since the failed coup, the German federal government has been concerned by the possibility that Ankara might use arms shipped from Germany “for internal repression of the Kurdish conflict,”  according to the news outlet. 

“This is a first step,” van Aken told the newspaper, referring to the letter he received.

Next, we must make sure that Turkey doesn’t get any weapons from Germany,” he noted, adding that the Turkish government is apt to wage wars both “in its own country and in Syria” and is becoming “increasingly dictatorial.” 

The failed July coup attempt in Turkey resulted in a mass crackdown on opposition figures, including teachers, journalists, security personnel, army officers, and civil servants accused of being sympathetic to Kurdish separatism or self-exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey says masterminded the coup.  More than 100,000 suspected coup supporters were fired from their jobs and some 30,000 were arrested.

Turkey’s Kurdish minority also suffered from Ankara’s crackdown, with pro-Kurdish media outlets shut down and a number of Kurdish politicians jailed

Following the purges, Turkey saw a wave of reprimands coming in from European states, which one after the other promised to stall Turkey’s EU accession talks unless Erdogan stopped cracking down on his political opponents and abandoned talk of reinstating the death penalty for the coup plotters.

A number of European countries, including Germany, the Netherlands and Austria, have also recently voiced concerns about the constitutional reforms that will be up for a vote in an upcoming Turkish referendum, which would hand Erdogan wide-reaching new powers if passed in April.

READ MORE: Turkey further away from EU accession ‘than ever before’ – German FM

Moreover, a number of pro-Erdogan rallies and events at which top-tier Turkish officials were to address the large Turkish community living in the EU have been banned in some European cities. Ankara has slammed the cancelations as an overreaction and branded German and Dutch leaders “Nazi remnants” who were proponents of “fascist practices.” 

Commenting on the current state of relations between Turkey and Europe, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel recently said that the prospect of Turkey’s accession to the EU seemed almost unrealistic at this point.

“Turkey is now further away from EU membership than ever before,” Gabriel told Der Spiegel in an interview last week.