Turkey’s Targeting of Peaceful Civilians in Artsakh: Reactions from Canada

4 m.   |  2020-10-08

O n October 5, 2020, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Francois-Philippe Champagne announced about the suspension of arms supplies to Turkey, which were used in hostilities against Artsakh: “Over the last several days, certain allegations have been made regarding Canadian technology being used in the military conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. Upon learning of these allegations, I immediately directed Global Affairs Canada to investigate these claims. 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” [1].

This topic was earlier touched upon by a Canadian arms control company Project Ploughshares. According to the message spread by the latter, video of air strikes released by the Azeri air force indicates the drones had been equipped with imaging and targeting systems made by L3Harris Wescam, the Canada-based unit of L3Harris Technologies [2].

On October 1, the Canadian The Globe and Mail newspaper reported that L3Harris Wescam had received permission this year to ship seven systems to Turkish drone maker Baykar [3].

The Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau made a statement on this issue: “Canada is probing allegations that Azeri forces involved in fighting with Armenia are using Canadian drone technology that was initially exported to Turkey” [4]. The Prime Minister of Canada highlighted that the exports shouldn’t contradict the principles and laws adopted by Ottawa. The Canada Import and Export Authorization Act prohibits the sale of arms, if it is used to violate international humanitarian law or human rights [5]. Justin Trudeau turned to the country’s Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne to travel to Europe “to discuss with their allies the developments in Eastern Europe and Caucasus, particularly in Nagorno-Karabakh” [6].

Anakara’s reaction wasn’t late: The Foreign Ministry of Turkey accused Canada of using double standards. According to Ankara Canada is freezing exports of military-grade target-acquisition gear to Turkey but continuing to ship it to Saudi Arabia [7]. “Based on the UN report, Canada is one of the countries helping fuel the war in Yemen” [8]. The Foreign Ministry of Turkey also accused Canada of failing in its duty to a fellow member of the NATO [9]. “We expect Canada to refrain from double standards and to act without being influenced by the narrow political interests of anti-Turkey circles in the country” [10]. It’s quite clear that the context of Turkey’s statement was addressed to the Canadian-Armenians.

Military experts state, that it’s mainly about the Canadian made  WESCAM MX™-15D optical-reconnaissance systems, mounted on Turkish made Bayraktar TB2 strike UAVs and are used in Azerbaijani hostilities against Artsakh [11]. WESCAM MX™-15D optical systems are installed on aircrafts (helicopters, planes and UAVs) and are designed for searching, detecting and shooting targets from a medium height [12]. The company also produces surveillance and reconnaissance optical systems of this type (WESCAM MX™-20D) used from higher altitudes.

Source https://www.wescam.com/products-service
WESCAM MX™-15D optical-reconnaissance system

On October 2, the RA Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan gave an interview to the Canadian The Globe and Mail newspaper referring to Azerbaijan’s and Turkey’s aggression against Artsakh. He stressed, that Armenia is on a “civilizational front line” and the countries such as Canada that are allied to Turkey via NATO, should already decide which side they are on: “Turkey’s military personnel and the Turkish armed forces are directly engaged in the hostilities. Turkey’s NATO allies must explain why the F-16 jets are shelling towns and villages in Nagorno-Karabakh, by killing civilian population” [13]. The RA Prime Minister N. Pashinyan called for Western countries to reconsider agreements reached on weapons sales to Turkey [14].

[1] https://www.canada.ca/en/global-affairs/news

[2] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-armenia

[3] https://www.jpost.com/international/canada

[4] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-armenia

[5] https://www.azatutyun.am/a/30876810.html

[6] https://www.jpost.com/international/canada

[7] https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article

[8] https://www.ctvnews.ca/world/turkey-hits-out-at

[9] https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article

[10] https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article

[11] https://razm.info/146678

[12] https://www.wescam.com/products-services

[13] https://en.armradio.am/2020/10/02/canada-needs

[14] https://en.armradio.am/2020/10/02/canada-needs