The last cause of tensions between Canada and Turkey was in October 2019, when Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring in northeastern Syria. The cross-border military invasion focused on the retreat of the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the creation of a safe zone along the Turkey-Syria border, where some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees that Turkey is hosting could be resettled. For the Turkish government, the SDF is just a smokescreen for the Syrian Kurdish YPG, which it considers to be part of the Kurdistan Workers` Party (PKK). It has been fighting the PKK in Turkey for decades and until 1998, the PKK found safe haven in Syria. As a result of Operation Peace Spring, Canada and several other Western countries imposed arms embargoes on Turkey. This was an important step, as Turkey took fourth place in Canada`s international arms trade in 2018, with sales of nearly $116 million, behind the United States, Saudi Arabia and Belgium. However, new applications for authorization for the export of military goods to Turkey would “probably be rejected,” according to the Canadian government. On the other hand, it was added in the communication to exporters that if exceptional circumstances, particularly with regard to NATO cooperation programmes, were justified, an authorisation could be granted and the authorizations issued before 11 October 2019 would remain valid. However, the Canadian government`s decision of April 16, 2020 to extend the ban on arms sales to Turkey until further notice was not welcomed in Ankara. “The protectionism policy is hurting the multilateral trading system and the world`s supply chains.
That is why bilateral cooperation initiatives have become more important,” Batur added. She called on Canadian businessmen to seize opportunities in Turkey: “Our bilateral trade reached $3.2 billion in 2018, the economic and trade relations between Turkey and Canada have great potential, these numbers are insufficient for our relations.” Learn more about Canada`s trade and investment agreements: types of contracts and the gradual development of trade and investment agreements. While the growth of bilateral trade is a positive sign that relations are on the right track, tensions have arisen over Canada`s recent granting of political asylum to Turkish citizens. Before 2016, it was rare for Turks to claim refugee status in Canada, although some did after the Gezi Park protests in 2013, which swept through Turkey. But the situation changed dramatically after the failure of an attempted military coup in July 2016, blamed by the Turkish government on supporters of the Muslim-Turkish clergy Fetullah Gulen. Between 2017 and 2019, for example, 4,697 Turkish citizens were granted refugee status from Canada, the largest number of accepted applications from each country. And while not all Turkish refugees welcomed by Canada are members of the Gulen movement, the Canadian government felt that most of them would be and would be threatened if they returned to Turkey. A free trade agreement between Turkey and Canada should begin as soon as possible, Turkish Deputy Trade Minister Gonca Yilmaz Batur said Thursday. There are niches for Canadian investors, including energy, information and communications technology, mining, education and infrastructure. The commercial opportunities in Turkey are in line with Canadian supply capacity. In June 2019, Canada and Turkey signed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing a Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) to hold annual meetings between Canadian and Turkish officials and businesses to expand bilateral trade and investment opportunities.
After Germany and Russia, Turkey is the 17th largest economy in the world and the third most populous nation in Europe (about 79.8 million).