Prague, Oct 14 (CTK) – The Czech Republic today suspended the licences for military materiel exports to Turkey, Deputy PM and Interior Minister Jan Hamacek (Social Democrats, CSSD) tweeted after meeting PM Andrej Babis (ANO) and Industry and Trade Minister Karel Havlicek (for ANO).
Earlier today, EU foreign ministers, including Czech Tomas Petricek (CSSD), agreed in Luxembourg that their respective countries will coordinate a restriction of their arms exports to Turkey in reaction to Ankara’s military intervention in northern Syria.
“The Czech Republic has immediately suspended the licences for military materiel exports to Turkey,” Hamacek said.
He said the developments in the north of Syria are unacceptable and that the EU’s strong, united and effective reaction should follow.
According to an annual report on military materiel exports, completed by the Industry and Trade Ministry, the Czech exports to Turkey have been rising, and doubled in 2018 as against the preceding year, reaching 139.4 million crowns.
A total of 280 subjects had a licence for military materiel exports from the Czech Republic at the end of 2018.
The licences are granted by the licence authority falling under the Industry and Trade Ministry.
Havlicek told Denik N server that all licence proceedings have been suspended and new licences will not be approved.
Havlicek said his ministry has quite an accurate list showing what materiel was exported to Turkey in recent years and what might be exported there in the weeks or months to come.
“We want to discuss all the cases at the licence authority to see what products and commodities are involved and assess the way they might be used or even misused in the ongoing conflict,” Havlicek told journalists.
Prague may change its decision in the days to come, depending on further developments and on further talks in the EU and NATO, he said.
“We can decide to cancel the suspension anytime,” he said, adding, nevertheless, that the EU should act in harmony.
Havlicek previously wrote on Twitter that Czechia should defend its business interests. Still before meeting Babis and Hamacek tonight, Havlicek repeated Babis’s statement that to an extent, the situation in Syria is a consequence of the EU’s failure to act in time.
Turkey launched its offensive to northeastern Syria on Wednesday. Ankara says it wants to clear the region of terrorists, which is how it calls the YPG Kurdish militia, for the region to become a safety zone enabling the return of refugees.
The offensive was preceded by U.S. President Donald Trump’s statement that the U.S. troops would withdraw from northern Syria, where they, side by side with Kurds, previously combatted Islamic State. Critics say that by this decision, Trump actually gave the green light to Erdogan to intervene in Syria.
Czech politicians criticise the Turkish invasion and some speak about a betrayal and violation of international law. A part of the opposition also criticise Babis who supported Erdogan’s plan of a security zone in Syria at their meeting during the UN General Meeting in New York in September.
“The Turkish president never spoke about such an intervention. He wanted refugees’ life to improve. Europe has totally failed, in my opinion,” Babis told journalists tonight.
He said the current situation is unacceptable and on the part of Turkey, it is an act of aggression that must end.
Foreign Minister Petricek tweeted that he has suspended the licences for arms exports to Turkey that were under his ministry’s jurisdiction.
Petricek said he is glad that Babis and Havlicek changed their minds and that Czechia has imposed the arms embargo.