Ottawa, Oct 6 – Canada has suspended its arms export permits to Turkey after it was claimed that Ankara was using drone-sensor technology created by an Ontario company in the fight between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
In a statement on Monday, Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said: “In line with Canada’s robust export control regime and due to the ongoing hostilities, I have suspended the relevant export permits to Turkey, so as to allow time to further assess the situation.
“Canada continues to be concerned by the ongoing conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh resulting in shelling of communities and civilian casualties.”
Champagne has also ordered a probe into a claim by Canadian peace research institute Project Ploughshares that it had evidence a Canadian-developed sensor technology was being used in Turkish military drones, CTV News reported.
Ploughshares researcher Kelsey Gallagher told CTV News the decision showed that “Canada’s arms control regime is working how it should”.
“These arms have posed a risk in Turkish hands for some time now and really should have tripped Canada’s risk assessment a long time ago, this is kind of overdue,” he added.
Also in a briefing on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he has asked Champagne to travel to Europe to work with allies on the “developments in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, particularly in Nagorno-Karabakh”.
Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory, is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but but mostly governed by the Republic of Artsakh, a de facto independent state with an Armenian ethnic majority.
Armenia and Azerbaijan went to war over the region in 1988-94, eventually declaring a ceasefire. However, a settlement was never reached.
The current fighting is the worst seen since the ceasefire and the two former Soviet republics have been blaming each other.
Earlier this week, Armenia said it stood “ready to engage” with mediators from France, Russia and the US to try to agree a ceasefire.
But Azerbaijan, which is openly backed by Turkey, has demanded the withdrawal of Armenian troops from Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent areas seized by ethnic Armenian troops, the BBC reported.
Since the latest conflict erupted on September 27, Nagorno-Karabakh authorities have confirmed that 201 of their personnel and a number of civilians have died.
Azerbaijan has said that 22 civilians were killed, but did not provide information about military casualties.