Flemish companies bypass arms embargo on Turkey - report

Flemish companies continue to send parts used to make military aircraft to Turkey, despite an arms embargo, the Brussels Times reported on Saturday.

After a Turkish military incursion into Syria against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in 2019, the chief minister of the Flemish part of Belgium, Jan Jambon, decided to freeze all Flemish government licences for the export of military equipment to Turkey, the news magazine said.

Flemish companies had been exporting parts for the A400M, a joint NATO aircraft project involving six nations including Belgium and Turkey. However, some of the parts manufactured by the companies are not covered by Jambon’s embargo and continue to be exported to Turkey, the Brussel Times said.

Responding to a parliamentary question from Annick Lambrecht, a member of the political opposition, Jambon said that the generic plane parts fell outside the parameters of the embargo and the parts were not delivered directly to Turkey, but to a manufacturing plant in Spain, according to the Brussel Times.

“I can confirm that there are no exports of A400M-related spare parts to Turkey,” Jambon said.

The A400M has been used to transfer jihadist fighters from Syria to new battlegrounds, including Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh and to transport arms from Turkey to Libya, in breach of a separate arms embargo, the Brussel Times said, citing Belgian peace NGO Vredesactie.

Belgium also suspended arms exports to Saudi Arabia in August 2020.