Change of national export control policy with regard to Turkey following the Turkish army’s incursion into northern Syria
Since 11 October 2019 there has been a stricter arms export policy in force for the export of military goods and dual-use goods with military end use to Turkey (see also echo message no. 51/2019; link in Dutch). The government made this decision in response to the Turkish incursion into northern Syria. This policy is now being amended, effective immediately.
What will change?
Old situation: since 11 October 2019, the processing of all new licence applications for the export of military goods or dual-use goods with military end use to Turkey has been suspended, and no new licences have been issued. An exemption was made for shipments that are part of deliveries for which an export license has already been issued (e.g. maintenance, replacement and repair of previously shipped military goods). For such exports, a presumption of denial was applied starting in November 2019.
New situation: Effective immediately, the processing of licence applications for the export of military goods or dual-use goods with military end use to Turkey will resume. Applications are assessed on the basis of a presumption of denial. In other words, a licence will only be issued if the applicant can incontrovertibly demonstrate that the goods will not be used in northeastern Syria. In addition, licence applications must meet the eight criteria of the EU’s Common Position on Arms Exports.
In addition, an exemption is introduced for licenses that are necessary to uphold international obligations of the Netherlands vis-a-vis the EU, NATO and other intergovernmental organizations. Such license applications seldom occur and will be carefully assessed on the basis of the eight criteria of the EU’s Common Position.
Why is the policy being modified?
This change is necessary in order to bring the policy in line with the General Administrative Law Act. The Act requires government bodies to assess licence applications within a reasonable time, in order to ensure that companies have the necessary legal certainty. The government would stress that the present change in no way constitutes a relaxation of the policy.
A further explanation of this change in policy can be found in the letter to parliament of 15 October 2021 (in Dutch), sent by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ben Knapen.
When will this new policy take effect?
15 October 2021
What goods does the policy apply to?
The stricter policy for Turkey applies only to military goods and dual-use goods with military end use. The does not apply to dual-use goods with civilian end use.
Is this policy similar to that of other countries, including fellow EU member states?
Several of our partners in the EU, including Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Norway and Sweden, have also tightened their national arms export policies. Germany, the UK and Canada also maintain a presumption of denial in this regard.
Will anything else change?
The stricter policy will remain unchanged in all other respects. That is to say:
- The policy applies to all licences with Turkey as the final destination. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will assess licence applications for goods that are shipped through Turkey to another final destination on the basis of the eight criteria of the EU Common Position on Arms Exports.
- Turkey is no longer on the list of possible final destinations for a general licence.
- It is not permissible to use either the Ministerial Order for General Transit Licence NL007 or the Ministerial Order for General Transit Licence NL008 for transshipment to or from Turkey (see also echo message no. 61/2020; link in Dutch). An individual licence is required for transshipment to or from Turkey.
The situation in the region is monitored on a regular basis. The policy will be amended in the future if developments in the region warrant it.
If you have any questions about Dutch arms export policy, please email the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at email@example.com.