The Canadian government has confirmed it is negotiating the sale of 39 CF-5 warplanes to Turkey, despite escalating Turkish air and ground attacks against Kurds in Northern Iraq.
Canada's Defense Minister David Collenette said talks are under way for the sale of the planes, some of which were declared surplus by the Canadian Forces last year. He emphasized, however, that any arms sale is subject to strict criteria.
But Keith Martin, a Reform Party member of Parliament, reminded the minister in the House of Commons that the Turkish military launched a massive ground and air attack Monday against Kurdish villages in Northern Iraq.
Collenette said any country that purchases surplus military equipment must ensure that it will not be used to infringe on the rights of others or in any other way that would not meet Canada's approval.
Christine Stewart, secretary of state for Latin America and Africa, said Canada has told the Turkish ambassador to Canada that the Turks must "respect the human rights of the minority group being targeted in this situation."
"We are asking Turkey to take a moderate stand by trying to dialogue with the group and respect their cultural rights," Ms. Stewart told the House of Commons.
She said Canada understands the difficulties in dealing with acts of terrorism but has asked the Turkish government to take a moderate stand and to try reach agreement with the Kurds.
Collenette said Canada sold surplus CF-104s to Turkey a number of years ago, and, as a NATO ally, Turkey has every right to ask its partners to sell it such equipment. Since 1988, Turkey has received about $30 million in military gear from Canada, mostly vehicles and communication equipment.