Tightening export control policy towards Turkey following Turkish army’s operation of northern Syria

On 11 October 2019, in response to Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria, the Dutch government decided to tighten its arms export policy in regard to Turkey. Until further notice, all new applications for a licence to export military goods to Turkey will be put on hold and no new licences will be issued. This applies only to military goods and dual-use goods with military applications. Other European partners, including France, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Belgium, have also tightened their national arms export policies.

On 26 November 2019, the policy was further fleshed out. The main points are as follows:

  • The policy applies to export licences for which Turkey is the country of final destination. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs assesses licences for goods exported via Turkey to another country of final destination on the basis of the eight criteria of the EU’s Common Position on arms exports.
  • Central government will remove Turkey from the list of possible countries of final destination for global licences.
  • A presumption of denial will apply to shipments resulting from deliveries for which an export licence has previously been issued (for example the maintenance, replacement or repair of a previously delivered military good). When it is incontrovertibly demonstrated that these goods cannot be used in Syria, central government will assess the licences against the eight criteria of the EU’s Common Position on arms export.
  • Businesses that already have a valid export licence for Turkey will be requested to voluntarily abstain from making use of the licence. This applies only to goods that could potentially be used in Syria. The licence must have been issued before the policy amendment of 11 October. 

In January 2020 – 3 months after these changes have been in effect – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will evaluate the stricter policy towards Turkey.

For more information, see the letter (Dutch) that foreign minister Stef Blok and foreign trade minister Sigrid Kaag sent to the House of Representatives on 25 November 2019.


Any questions regarding the Dutch arms export policy can be emailed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at dvb-wapenexport@minbuza.nl.