German arms deals to developing and emerging countries surged in 2013, the government said on Wednesday, highlighting the country’s role as a major weapon exporter just as German voters are growing warier of military force in light of the Ukraine crisis.
The German government approved EUR3.6 billion ($4.9 billion) in arms exports to those countries, a 38% increase from 2012 and the highest total in at least 10 years, according to an annual report from the economics ministry. Meanwhile, individual export licenses issued for European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries–as well as for German allies Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Japan–barely budged at EUR2.2 billion.
“These are exports with blood on them,” Jan van Aken, foreign-policy spokesman of the opposition Left Party in parliament, said Wednesday. “People are being repressed, expelled, or killed with these German weapons.”
In a poll published last month by the Körber Foundation in Hamburg, 82% of Germans said the country should reduce weapons exports to allied countries. The poll didn’t ask about non-allied countries.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s new coalition government, sensitive to such criticism, has been putting new controls on arms deals in place since it took over in December. But the rise in transactions with countries outside the EU and NATO underscores Germany’s ever-more-intricate economic ties with countries frequently criticized for human rights violations.
In 2013, the No. 1 destination country for individual German arms exports licenses was Algeria, which was due to receive EUR826 million worth of trucks, armored-vehicle parts, and other goods. Qatar, in second place, was approved to get EUR673 million in German-made military goods including tank parts, a flight simulator, and radar systems. Saudi Arabia came in fourth, after the U.S., receiving EUR361 million in helicopters, unmanned aircraft, tank parts, and other products. […]