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Netherlands to freeze weapons exports to Turkey: ministry

PTI | The Hague | Updated: 12-10-2019 00:52 IST | Created: 12-10-2019 00:50 IST
Netherlands to freeze weapons exports to Turkey: ministry
Image Credit: Pixabay

The Netherlands is to freeze all weapons exports to Turkey in the aftermath of Ankara's assault on Kurdish forces in northern Syria, the Dutch foreign ministry said Friday. "The Netherlands has now decided to withhold all license applications for the export of military goods to Turkey pending the course of the situation," the ministry said in a statement sent to AFP.

The move comes in the wake of foreign trade minister Sigrid Kaag's announcement in the Dutch parliament Thursday that all military licence applications by Turkey would be turned down "unless there is clear proof that the goods are not being used in northeastern Syria". The Netherlands, which is part of an international coalition against ISIS and a fellow NATO partner with Turkey also called on EU member states to "exercise restraint and closely follow the criteria for arms exports" to Turkey.

"We are deeply concerned about the humanitarian aspect of this operation" which may "hinder the fight against ISIS and stability in the region," Dutch Deputy Prime Minister Hugo de Jonge told journalists Friday at a weekly news conference. The Netherlands is responsible for about eight percent of Europe's total arms exports to Turkey, according to figures by the Amsterdam-based research and campaign organization Stop Wapenhandel.

This included mainly parts for tanks and armored vehicles, as well as technology and parts for fighter planes and attack helicopters, Stop Wapenhandel said in a report released in 2017. Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok on Wednesday summoned Ankara's envoy to protest Turkey's deadly offensive against Kurdish forces, effectively triggered this week by President Donald Trump's order to pull back US forces from the Syrian border.

The third such Turkish operation since the start of the war in Syria, was met with fierce international condemnation over what many saw as the blatant betrayal of a faithful ally. Turkey is set to dominate the agenda at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday, while EU leaders are to discuss the matter at a summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday next week.

But what, if any, action they agree on will depend to a large extent on what happens on the ground in Syria.


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