Agreements to halt arms sales to Turkey not effective?

President Recep Erdogan. Photo Credit: L'Espresso

 ROME – The EU agreements to condemn the current Turkish offensive in Syria will have limited immediate effect, say political sources.

 The pledges, agreed Monday at a foreign affairs council meeting in Luxembourg, explicitly condemn the offensive but fails to implement an EU-wide embargo on selling arms to Turkey.  Instead, the ministers agreed to take “strong national positions” on arms exports to Ankara.

 This leaves EU countries free to decide whether they stop exporting arms to the country immediately or if they do not sign new contracts for arms exports.

 Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s threat to send millions of Syrian refugees to Europe is likely to have scared governments away from stronger action, said La Repubblica.

 Italian Foreign Minister and leader of the Five Star Movement Luigi Di Maio has said that he will stop future contracts.  He has also affirmed that he has “made immediate arrangements for the opening of an investigation into the existing contracts” but he has not declared that he will put a stop to them.

 According to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, from 2014-2018 Turkey was Italy’s leading customer for weapons, purchasing 15 per cent of Italy’s total arms exports.  This suggests that the current contracts are substantial. 

 Di Maio has strongly denounced Turkey, stating in the Camera dei Deputati that “Turkey alone is responsible for the escalation” and “Turkey must immediately stop its military actions.”  But despite the severe criticism of Turkey's actions from Italian leaders, the arms sales under current contracts have not yet stopped.