Berlin willing to consider sellingTurkey Leopard II tanks

12th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

12 October 2004 , BERLIN - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's spokesman on Tuesday denied reports of an impending sale of Leopard II tanks to Turkey, but said Berlin would be willing to consider the export of such weapons systems to Ankara. "Turkey has signalled an interest in buying surplus Leopard IIs from German armed forces stocks for a long time," said Schroeder's chief spokesman Bela Anda in remarks to Deutsche Presse-Agentur, dpa. Anda said there had been no decision on such a sale but that if A

12 October 2004  

BERLIN - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's spokesman on Tuesday denied reports of an impending sale of Leopard II tanks to Turkey, but said Berlin would be willing to consider the export of such weapons systems to Ankara.

"Turkey has signalled an interest in buying surplus Leopard IIs from German armed forces stocks for a long time," said Schroeder's chief spokesman Bela Anda in remarks to Deutsche Presse-Agentur, dpa.

Anda said there had been no decision on such a sale but that if Ankara made a concrete request Berlin would take into account the European Commission's recommendation earlier this month for the opening of European Union membership negotiations with Turkey.

The Chancellery spokesman was reacting to a report in the Financial Times Deutschland - the British paper's German language edition - that Germany plans to sell "several hundred" used Leopard IIs to Turkey.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had talks with Schroeder in Berlin last week and German Defence Minister Peter Struck is due to visit Turkey in November.

Although both Turkey and Germany are members of the NATO alliance, Berlin has in the past refused to sell Ankara tanks, owing to concern they could be used against Turkey's Kurdish minority.

A deal in 1999 for the sale of 1,000 Leopard IIs to Turkey worth EUR seven billion had to be cancelled after German Schroeder's Greens coalition partner objected.

German law bars the sales of weapons to crisis regions. Decisions on exports are made in the Federal Security Council which meets in secret under the leadership Greens Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, who is also deputy chancellor.

"There will be no change in the arms export policy of Germany," stressed Anda, adding: "The German government will stick to its restrictive export approval practice on the basis of political principles and the EU's code of conduct."

The Leopard II, one of the world's most advanced main battle tanks, was developed to meet Cold War threat scenarios such as a massive armoured attack by the former East Bloc's Warsaw Pact.

But with Germany's armed forces being revamped into lighter, more mobile units for international operations, thousands of Leopard IIs are now being mothballed.

DPA

Subject: German news
 

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