Finland Halts Arms Exports to Turkey, Condemns Military Operation in Syria
By Staff, Agencies
Finland's center-left government, led by the Social Democrats, has condemned the Turkish offensive in Syria, pledging to stop all arms exports to Ankara.
Just three weeks ago, the Finnish government approved drone exports to Turkey. Now, Helsinki has stopped all such weapons exports and strongly condemned Turkey's actions.
“The situation is serious. For my own area of responsibility, I note the following: Finland does not export defense material to countries that wage wars or violate human rights”, Finnish Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen of the Centre Party tweeted. “No new arms export licenses from Finland to Turkey will be granted for the time being. The situation is also being investigated for the arms export licenses already granted”, Kaikkonen added.
The Finnish government also issued a press release condemning the Turkish offensive on Syria and demanding that the offensive be called off.
“Finland supports the European Commission's statement by Jean-Claude Juncker, calling for the measures to cease,” the press release said.
According to the Finnish government, there is no military solution to the conflict in Syria, and the Turkish measures could potentially jeopardize the gains made in the fight against the Wahhabi Daesh [Arabic acronym for “ISIS” / “ISIL”].
“Turkey's actions are exacerbating the already-complicated crisis in Syria. We are very concerned about the effects these measures could have on the humanitarian situation in Syria”, Social Democrat Prime Minister Antti Rinne said in the press release.
He also said that the offensive could spark a new refugee crisis, and called for the EU to step up preparedness.
Rinne also confirmed that Finland will stop arms exports to Turkey.
In 2017, Finland exported weapons to a total of 77 different countries to the tune of almost $200 million. Most weapons were sold to Poland, namely various vehicles including Patria armored vehicles. However, Turkey has emerged as one of Finland's leading partners as well, with almost $15 million worth of arms.
Last year, Finland decided not to grant new permits for arms exports to Saudi Arabia when it discovered that vehicles sold to the Middle-Eastern country were being used in the conflict in Yemen.
On 9 October, Turkey launched a military operation in Northern Syria against Kurdistan Worker’s Party [PKK], which Ankara considers to be a terrorist organization, and its armed wing: the People’s Protection Units [YPG]. Ankara claims that the offensive is aimed at clearing the border area of terrorists and creating a security zone.