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Canada, US linking drone-camera exports to Sweden NATO bid: Türkiye

Canada, US linking drone-camera exports to Sweden NATO bid: Türkiye

Canada and the United States are insisting that Ankara ratify Sweden’s NATO membership bid before Ottawa resumes the export of drone cameras to Türkiye, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Friday.

Speaking with reporters on a flight from Athens late on Thursday, Erdoğan said the U.S. agreed with Canada on the issue but that Sweden’s NATO bid was to be decided by Türkiye’s Parliament after he sent the bill there for consideration in late October.

When Erdoğan signaled at a NATO conference in July that Sweden would eventually get the green light, NATO member Canada agreed to reopen talks with Türkiye on lifting export controls on drone parts, including optical equipment, reports said.

“On the issue of drone cameras we wanted from them, Canada is insisting: Sweden, Sweden. The U.S. is repeating the same thing,” Erdoğan said.

Turkish defense companies have already started replacing and equipping the Turkish drones with electro-optical reconnaissance, surveillance and targeting systems they developed domestically.

Sweden and Finland dropped decades of military non-alignment and sought the nuclear protection afforded by NATO in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

Their bids won fast-track approval from all NATO members except Türkiye and Hungary. Türkiye cited Sweden’s tolerance of terrorist groups and the desecration of Islam’s holy book, the Quran.

Türkiye and Hungary accepted Finland into the bloc this year.

Türkiye, a NATO member, asked in October 2021 to buy 40 Lockheed Martin Corp. F-16 fighters and 79 modernization kits for its existing warplanes.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has repeatedly promised to move forward with the $20-billion F-16 sale. Still, there have been objections in the U.S. Congress over Türkiye’s delaying of NATO enlargement to bring in Sweden.

Erdoğan signaled that Parliament will only act on Sweden if the U.S. Congress approves Türkiye’s request.

“If you have your Congress, I have my Parliament. You say you will take steps on the F-16 issue after passing it through Congress. I also have a Parliament,” Erdoğan said.

“If we are two NATO allies, do what you have to simultaneously, in solidarity and our Parliament will take the necessary decision.”

The Turkish Parliament’s foreign affairs committee has still not scheduled a hearing on the bid.

The issue has been complicated by Türkiye’s anger at Washington for its support for Israel in the Gaza conflict.

Erdoğan said Friday that he had no intention of meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden soon.

“A meeting with President Biden is not on our agenda. Their stance on Gaza is known to all of you,” Erdoğan said.

“If he calls us, we will meet with him and discuss whatever issues we need to discuss.”

The article was first published here

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