The top defense body on Friday confirmed that the United Kingdom has lifted all restrictions on arms exports to Turkey.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu last month said that London had lifted the ban, as contacts intensified between the two governments amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Çavuşoğlu had also hinted that Canada was also aiming to loosen its embargo.
“It felt more positive to see that positive steps that were promised earlier have been taken, implemented and removed, especially regarding some restrictions imposed on Turkey,” said Ismail Demir, the head of Turkey’s Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB).
The British government in December announced it would resume exports but said new export licenses would be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
It had halted exports to Turkey after its military operation seeking to clear northern Syria of the terrorist organization PKK’s Syrian wing, the YPG, in 2019.
“It is important to take these positive steps, to act in the spirit of alliance, and we have seen how positive a positive agenda can be formed if the U.K. side behaves in accordance with this spirit,” Demir told reporters during his visit to London.
He said important details on technical issues were discussed, and at the same time, steps were taken in principle to bring bilateral ties to a higher level in the field of defense. The meetings also addressed cooperation opportunities in other countries, Demir said.
Turkey and the U.K. have been engaged in close defense cooperation as British engine maker Rolls-Royce is said to be involved in the process to produce an engine for Turkey’s National Combat Aircraft (MMU).
The U.K. has also expressed interest to buy Turkish-made armed drones, which U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace had called a “game-changer.”
Turkey has sold its drones to many countries, including Ukraine, after they proved effective in conflicts in Syria, Libya and Karabakh, previously referred to as Nagorno-Karabakh.
Previously, Canada had canceled export permits for drone technology to Turkey after concluding that the country sold the equipment to the Azerbaijani military forces during the war in the Armenian-occupied Karabakh region.
The parts under the embargo included camera systems for Baykar-made unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Export licenses were suspended in 2019 during Turkish military activities in Syria. Restrictions were then eased but reimposed during the Karabakh conflict.
Turkish defense companies acted to produce the embargoed parts within the country. There are already Bayraktar TB2 UAVs in the Turkish military’s inventory that was equipped with the leading defense firm Aselsan-developed Common Aperture Targeting System (CATS), replacing Canadian-made ones.