Minister defends record after doubling of arms exports

DPA/The Local
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Minister defends record after doubling of arms exports
A tank similar to those delivered in the controversial deal with Qatar. Photo: DPA

The economy minister Sigmar Gabriel on Monday defended his goal to reduce German arms exports despite the industry nearly doubling its business in 2015.


The Welt am Sonntag had previously reported that 2015 arms exports totalled €7.86 billion, nearly twice that of 2014 in which arms exports totalled €3.97 billion. 
In an exclusive interview in Monday's Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ), German Economy and Energy minister Sigmar Gabriel said that despite the increase, he was still working toward fulfilling that election promise. 
Gabriel said that the export of handheld weapons, such as machine guns and anti-tank rocket launchers, was at its lowest point in 15 years. 
"These weapons are especially dangerous as they are the weapon of choice in civil wars," the Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader told the paper. Sales of handheld weapons were reduced to €32 million from €47 million over the previous year. 
Most of the overall sales were made to NATO members or other allied countries, including the €1.1 billion sale of tanker aircraft to Great Britain. 
However, Gabriel says that there was little to do about a controversial deal with Qatar to deliver a €1.6 billion order of tanks. 
"Unfortunately, I could not renege on that sale," Gabriel said, as it was made under the previous Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Free Democratic Party (FDP) coalition government.
The deal has faced massive opposition as the Emirate is suspected of supporting the Islamic State (ISIS). 
"I would rather pay the penalty [for cancelling the sale] than make a delivery to a country that is leading a war," Green party arms critic Agnieszka Brugger told the SZ, adding that to say the sale was a done deal was simply a "cheap excuse".


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