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Germany blocks defense exports to Turkey

German officials say they are concerned arms sold to Turkey could be used to oppress citizens there.

By
Ryan Maass
The German government blocked 11 arms deliveries to Turkey out of fear the weapons may be used to oppress the local population. Pictured, German Chancellor Angela Merkel meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Photo by Tumay Berkin/EPA
The German government blocked 11 arms deliveries to Turkey out of fear the weapons may be used to oppress the local population. Pictured, German Chancellor Angela Merkel meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Photo by Tumay Berkin/EPA

March 23 (UPI) -- German government officials are blocking planned weapon deliveries to NATO partner Turkey over concerns the equipment could be misused.

As a NATO partner state, blocked arms exports are rare for Turkey. The country's armed forces are engaging several radical militant factions within its borders including the Kurdistan Workers' Party and the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh.

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While Germany and NATO support the fight against the Islamic State, leaders in Berlin say Turkish President Recep Erdogan may be using imported weapons to oppress his own citizens.

"The importance of observing human rights will be particularly important in respect to arms export approvals," German lawmaker Jan van Aken said in a letter quoted by German English-language newspaper DW, and later told reporters "the next step must be that Turkey gets absolutely no weapons from Germany."

Germany's federal government has rejected 11 arms shipments to Turkey since November 2016, compared to only eight between 2010 and 2015. In the past, Berlin has provided Ankara with Leopard tanks, automatic rifles and other equipment supporting counter-terror operations in the region.

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Van Aken, a left-wing leader in Germany, cited Turkey's conflict with the Kurdish PKK as reasons for the move. Turkey-based newspaper Daily Sabah reports the Islamic State and the PKK are designated as terrorist groups by NATO, the European Union and the United States.

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