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Sweden’s arms exports to Turkey in 2023 totaled $386,000

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Data from the Swedish Inspectorate for Strategic Products (ISP) have shown that the country’s arms exports to Turkey totaled 4 million Kronor ($386,000) in 2023, Agence France-Presse reported.

In 2019 Stockholm introduced restrictions on arms sales to Ankara in response to Turkey’s military operations against Kurdish groups in Syria.

The embargo was lifted in late 2022 following negotiations between the two countries during Sweden’s NATO accession process, which was eventually approved last month by Turkey after months of negations.

The amount of arms exports to Turkey from Sweden has led to unease among some advocacy groups in the country.

“The resumption of arms exports to Turkey clearly shows that Sweden places greater importance to NATO membership than to respecting human rights, democracy and international law,” said the peace and disarmament NGO Svenska Freds in a statement.

“The arms industry wants to present itself as a contributor to freedom and democracy, but Swedish arms companies also export (their products) to undemocratic regimes, countries that violate human rights and international law,” the NGO added.

People in these countries “pay a high price” for flourishing arms industry, it said.

Sweden and Finland pursued a policy of military non-alignment during the Cold War era between the Soviet Union and the West.

But Russian war on Ukraine, launched in February 2022, upturned geopolitical calculations and forced the two to seek the nuclear protection afforded by the world’s most powerful defense bloc, NATO.

According to the ISP, Sweden’s arms exports rose 18 percent in 2023 to reach 1.6 billion euros as Russia’s war on Ukraine drove a search for weaponry.

Most of the exports went to European Union countries and 39 countries that Sweden cooperates with, ISP said in its statement.

Sweden has a growing defense industry, with Saab making the Gripen fighter jet, the Global Eye surveillance aircraft and anti-tank weapons.

“The degradation of the security situation and the continuing rearmament in the world means that the Swedish defense industry can expect many orders for a long time,” said ISP Director General Carl Johan Wieslander in a statement.

He said Sweden’s military equipment is attracting great interest, particularly in Ukraine.

The top 10 destinations for Swedish arms exports are the United States, Brazil, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, Germany, India, Norway, France and the Czech Republic.

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