Turkey is eyeing Montenegro as a springboard for expanding its defense industry in southeastern Europe, according to a new agreement between the two countries establishing a cooperation mechanism in the defense industry.
The deal is set to open the Montenegrin market and that of its neighborhood up to Turkish defense companies controlled by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. This is in line with recent agreements and developments which confirm that Turkey’s defense sector has become a tool for Ankara to increase its influence and strengthen its presence in foreign countries.
According to the text of the agreement, obtained by Nordic Monitor, the mechanism covers such areas as the industrial production, procurement and maintenance of military and defense materiel as well as technical and logistical support, information sharing and research in the field.
The 19-article agreement, which sets out the framework for the cooperation mechanism in the defense industry, was signed on November 17, 2017 in Ankara by representatives from the Turkish defense ministry and the Montenegrin economy ministry and was submitted to the Turkish parliament for ratification on October 2, 2019 by President Erdoğan.
The agreement states in Article 3 that the parties will provide “appropriate conditions for joint research, development, production and modernization of spare parts, tools, defence materials, military systems, technical displays and technical equipment required by the Armed Forces of the Parties.”
The deal also covers the sale of finished military and defense equipment produced through joint projects to third countries and technology transfers. Moreover, the agreement in Article 3(8) underlines that the parties should focus on “selling, purchasing or exchange, in line with the relevant legislation of the parties, of surplus defence industry products and services,” adding that they will assist each other in the transfer of “scientific and technical information, relevant documents and information on Defence Industry standards.”
The letter submitted to parliament seeking approval of the cooperation agreement with Montenegro:montenegro_deal
In the text of the agreement, the two countries pledge to conduct projects “within framework of agreements, memoranda of understanding, protocols or contracts to be signed between the Parties and/or relevant authorities of the Parties.” To this end, a new financial cooperation agreement and a protocol for financial aid operations between the two countries were signed by Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Montenegrin Defense Minister Predrag Boskovic in Ankara on October 1, 2019.
According to media reports, these bilateral agreements regulate the financial aspect of the cooperation mechanism. In this regard, Turkey will allocate financial sources to joint projects on the condition that Turkish contractors be engaged in project execution, and will also donate military vehicles and equipment to Montenegro in order to increase its influence in the country.
Nordic Monitor previously reported how President Erdoğan consolidated arms manufacturers and government procurement agencies under his direct and indirect control and has used the military industrial complex to sustain and finance his Islamist regime. The agreement will make Montenegro a significant market in the Balkans for the Turkish defense industry led by companies controlled by President Erdoğan and his family members.
According to Article 6 of the framework agreement, the Turkish and Montenegrin governments will form a joint commission to implement the agreement and select projects to be carried out jointly. The joint commission will be responsible for determination and definition of concrete fields of cooperation, selection of joint projects, exchange of information, “submission of proposals, recommendations and opinions to the relevant authorities concerning the participation of Third parties in joint projects” and “ensuring the preparation and publication of necessary documents for realization of approved projects and decisions.”
The deal also sets forth conditions on the handling of classified information and documents produced or provided under the agreement, specifying how they shall be exchanged, used and protected. “Classified Information and Documents will be transmitted between the Parties through government-to-government diplomatic channels or through other channels agreed by the Competent Security Authorities of the Parties,” Article 8 (10) states.
The agreement also aims to promote cooperation between military technical institutions, defense industry companies and maintenance and repair facilities, and to facilitate technical visits to research centers and personnel exchanges between the institutions and companies.
The terms of the agreement will be executed by the defense ministry on the Turkish side and the economy ministry for Montenegro. The deal is valid for five years with automatic renewal. According to the agreement, either party may notify the other of the intent to terminate at least six months in advance.
The cooperation agreement on the defense industry is posted below: