EU pledges to halt Turkey arms exports

By AAP Newswire

EU member states have agreed to stop delivering arms to Turkey in response to the country's military incursion into north-eastern Syria.

The bloc has condemned the incursion for seriously undermining regional stability and causing civilian suffering.

In a statement on Monday, EU foreign ministers committed to "strong national positions" on arms export control, in line with an existing EU pledge to prevent the export of military goods that could contribute to regional instability.

The decision does not amount to a formal EU-wide arms embargo, which could have created legal complications for the many member states that are also NATO allies of Turkey, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said.

Monday's decision will allow for "more immediate decision-making" that is faster to implement than an EU arms embargo, Mogherini added following a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg.

In recent days, Germany, France, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland and Norway all decided to restrict arms exports to Turkey.

"The EU condemns Turkey's military action which seriously undermines the stability and the security of the whole region, resulting in more civilians suffering and further displacement and severely hindering access to humanitarian assistance," the EU ministers said.

The bloc also called upon the United States, which leads the the international coalition against the Islamic State extremist group, to convene a meeting for them to "address how to pursue its efforts in the current context." Turkey is also a coalition member.

Earlier on Monday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas stressed the importance of remaining in dialogue with Turkey, noting that this was not the time to consider economic sanctions against Ankara.

Meanwhile, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn warned that Turkey's NATO allies could get sucked into the conflict, should the Syrian government retaliate and attack its neighbour.