Czech Republic suspends weapons exports to Turkey
The Czech Republic has joined other EU member states in halting weapons exports to Turkey over its military offensive in northern Syria. The Czech foreign minister on Monday urged Turkey to halt the offensive and open the door to negotiations aimed at finding a political solution to the conflict.
“All licenses to export weapons and ammunition to Turkey have been suspended and new ones will not be issued until the situation has been cleared up. The Czech Republic is coordinating its steps with its EU partners and is also consulting the matter within the Visegrad Four group of states.”
Czech firms had licences to export arms, ammunition and land vehicles as well as technology for military aircraft to Turkey. Trade and industry Minister Karel Havlíček said the suspension of licences has affected all military exports without exception.
“It is a broad mix of export items and I do not want to specify the firms or weapons concerned. According to our information none of them are being used in the military offensive in Syria, but we have taken the precaution of suspending military exports across the board.”
Meanwhile, Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček has once again urged Turkey to halt the military offensive in northern Syria and open the door to negotiations. The Czech foreign minister summoned the Turkish ambassador to Prague on Monday to table an official protest against Turkey’s actions, noting that while the Czech Republic respects Turkey’s right to defend its border, it strongly opposes the military offensive deep into Syrian territory.
Czech officials have condemned the military offensive across the board, with some politicians speaking of betrayal and violation of international law. Some centre-right opposition MPs are also attaching blame to the Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, for having said in early September, that the Visegrad Four states support Ankara’s intention to create a “safe zone for refugees” in northern Syria. Prime Minister Babiš, who made it clear he condemned the military offensive, defended himself with the argument that at the time there had been no talk of an invasion. He expressed regret that the EU had not done more to prevent the military offensive and push for a diplomatic solution.