| 2 March 2024, Saturday |

Turkey says Canada, US linking drone-camera exports to Sweden NATO membership

The transcript of a Friday discussion with journalists revealed that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan stated that the United States and Canada were pressing Ankara to approve Sweden’s NATO membership ambition before Canada could start selling drone cameras to Turkey again.

Speaking with reporters late on Thursday night on a flight from Athens, Erdogan stated that while the US and Canada agreed on the matter, Turkey’s parliament will ultimately decide whether or not to approve Sweden’s NATO application when he submitted the bill there for review in late October.

When Erdogan signalled at a NATO conference in July that Sweden would eventually get the green light, NATO member Canada quietly agreed to re-open talks with Turkey on lifting export controls on drone parts, including optical equipment, Reuters reported.

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

Turkey, a NATO member, asked in October 2021 to buy 40 Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) F-16 fighters and 79 modernisation kits for its existing warplanes.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration backs the $20-billion sale, but there have been objections in the U.S. Congress over Turkey’s delaying of NATO enlargement to bring in Sweden, and over its human rights record.

“If you have your Congress, I have my parliament. You say you will take a step in the F-16 issue after passing through Congress. I also have a parliament,” Erdogan said.

  • Reuters