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Rheinmetall plans tank production facility in Turkey, threatened by dictatorship

| Bild: Unknown [Public Domain] - Wikimedia

Despite the current political debate, Rheinmetall (Essen, Germany) plans to build a new tank production facility in Turkey. Rheinmetall claims that a military buildup of Turkey is unproblematic, because Turkey is a fully integrated member of the NATO and still a EU candidate.12

Turkey already used tanks in the past against Kurdish minorities as well as against civilian protestors, which makes Rheinmetall’s planned Turkish-based tank production facility highly questionable. In addition, weapon production in the Middle East is a sensitive issue in general, because it fosters political instability and armed conflicts.

Instead of participating in a political dialogue in Germany about weapon exports and waiting for approval from the German government, Rheinmetall bypasses the potential debate by shifting its production facility to Turkey. The company’s CEO Papperger even admits that starting to produce weapon systems in Turkey makes selling them to countries in the region much easier, because of too many export restrictions in Germany.13

Rheinmetall has several production facilities in countries without export restrictions or lacking human rights compliance: artillery munitions in Saudi Arabia, light wheeled tanks in Algeria, weapon systems and artillery munitions in South Africa and weapon systems and munitions in Turkey. Besides the current production in cooperation with the local partner BMC in Izmir (Turkey), Rheinmetall plans to expand its activities in Turkey by forming the new joint venture RBSS with Turkish partner BMC and Malay partner EtikaStrategi. Turkis BMC is lead by an outspoken Erdogan supporter and media mogul. Further, many Gulf States hold a share in BMC and according to Defense News, negotiations with Qatar about the delivery of 1,000 armored vehicles are already ongoing. With the planned production facility, the Gulf States would be benefitting by being able to easily obtain military equipment directly from Turkey, instead from other European countries.1

The German federal ministry of economics and technology gives no information about the deal, but claims that it pursues a restrictive weapon export policy. Besides transparent political processes and a critical public, responsible behavior from financial institutions is required.

Many German banks directly finance Rheinmetall: Bayrische Landesbank, Norddeutsche Landesbank, Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank und Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf. Further, many funds include the Rheinmetall share, for instance funds of the Deka Investment GmbH, which are widely sold in German Sparkassen.

Facing Finance therefore urges banks and insurance companies to inform their customers about connections to questionable companies like Rheinmetall. Additionally, financial institutions need social and ecological standards, which prohibit the support of human rights violations and environmental pollution. The Fair Finance Guide provides an overview of the banking guidelines of ten German banks.

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