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Not just Leonardo, here’s how Italy is aiming for military exports to Azerbaijan

Not just Leonardo, here's how Italy is aiming for military exports to Azerbaijan

Commercial collaboration between Italy and Azerbaijan is being strengthened also in light of the recent contract for the supply of Leonardo's C-27J Spartan to the Azerbaijani Air Force. However, the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh raises the dilemma of military exports to belligerent countries. All the details

The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh reignites the issue of military exports for the Italian government.

It focuses on the role of external arms suppliers and their transfers of armaments and other military equipment to the two countries involved. And our country also fits into this scenario.

Azerbaijan has reached a deal to purchase Leonardo's C-27J military transport aircraft, a rare arms deal with a Western country that grew out of growing energy cooperation between Baku and Rome. First anticipated by the Sole 24 Ore , last June 8th the confirmation arrived from the group led by Roberto Cingolani: "Leonardo has signed a contract for the C-27J to the Azerbaijan Air Force". However, the note from the Piazza Monte Grappa company did not specify the number of planes purchased or the value of the agreement. At the same time, Leonardo stated that the sale is linked to closer energy ties between Italy and Azerbaijan. Italy has emerged as Azerbaijan's largest energy customer. in Europe.

“For Azerbaijan, a C-27J offers the Azerbaijani Air Force new tactical operations for transport, logistics and potentially, depending on the final version of the C-27J purchased, ground support and EW options,” he commented to Breaking Defense Ryan Bohl, senior Middle East and North Africa analyst at Rane, adding that this is a notable step forward for Azeri-Western military relations, given that Azerbaijan, is under an informal arms embargo that has seen it in largely isolated from military purchases in the West.

In fact, in 1992, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) asked member states to impose an arms embargo against both Armenia and Azerbaijan, during the first war between the two sides. The embargo request remains in effect.


Azerbaijan became the 17th nation to purchase Leonardo's tactical transport aircraft, Defense News noted in June.

The commercial collaboration between Rome and Baku is therefore consolidated. The two countries signed a contract for the supply of the C-27J Spartan as part of the visit of an Azerbaijani delegation to Italy in the presence of representatives of the Defense Ministers of the two countries. The agreement is part of the broad modernization program of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces which are looking with ever greater interest at the products of Italian industry, Leonardo's note specifies.


As AresDifesa recalled, “The cooperation between Baku and Leonardo began in 2012 with the agreement between AugustaWestland and Azerbaijan Airlines for the supply of 10 helicopters”.

Furthermore, in 2017 Leonardo signed an agreement in Baku with SOCAR, the Azerbaijani oil company leading the construction of the Southern Gas Corridor gas pipeline. The objective of the agreement was to increase the physical and cyber security of energy supply infrastructures and ensure greater efficiency in the activities of the Azerbaijani company.

This latest agreement "is part of the broad modernization program of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces which are looking with ever greater interest at the products of Italian industry", reads Leonardo's note .


Furthermore, according to Repubblica , "At the top of Baku's desires are submarines: "pocket" boats built by Drass Galeazzi with small dimensions and deadly performance".

Since 1927, Drass Galeazzi, based in Livorno, has been a company operating in hyperbaric technology and in the production of commercial deep diving vehicles, compact submarines and special forces vehicles. Just yesterday, Sergio Cappelletti, president of Drass Underwater Technology and Defense, illustrated Drass's capabilities for national defense in light of current and future needs in a hearing at the Defense Commission of the Chamber of Deputies . Among these, compact submarines such as the Dg550, submarines much smaller than conventional ones but with high performance.


Therefore the Italian defense industry, supported by Defense Minister Crosetto, is aiming for military exports with Azerbaijan.

“Talks between the two countries' defense ministries to reach the [C-27J] agreement reflect Italy's growing use of government-to-government (G2G) negotiations to sell products manufactured by state-controlled companies Leonardo and Fincantieri”, wrote Defense News on the occasion of the signing of the contract.

However, law no. 185 of 1990 which regulates the legislation on the export of weapons of the national defense industry, prohibiting, among other things, the transfer of armaments to countries in a state of armed conflict. Without forgetting that in 1992, in response to the first armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh area, the OSCE asked its participating States to impose an embargo on the deliveries of weapons to the forces involved in the war.

“In reality – Repubblica reports today – all contracts are still blocked because there is no authorization from Uama, the office that arbitrates war exports and supervises the application of the 1992 law: those rules prohibit any transfer to a country at war” .


However, for some time the defense industry had launched an appeal to Parliament to amend the law to streamline the authorization processes. And just this summer the Meloni government took action.

The Council of Ministers of 3 August, on the proposal of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Antonio Tajani, approved a bill which introduces amendments to the law of 9 July 1990, n. 185, which regulates the control of international movements of armaments material.

First of all, the responsibility for applying the bans is attributed to the Inter-ministerial Committee for the exchange of defense armament materials (CISD), composed of the President of the Council of Ministers and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, of the Interior, of defence, of the economy and finances and of businesses and of Made in Italy.

Until now, the structure that regulated law 185 was within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: the Uama agency, or Unit for the authorization of armaments materials which until now was responsible for authorizing or not the trade in armaments.


Therefore "the Meloni government has reinstated a ministerial committee that will make a political decision on exports and will be able to make the "reason of state" weigh more" concluded Repubblica .

Meanwhile, on September 19, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani wrote on Twitter/X: “In light of the ongoing tensions, in New York I wanted to meet with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov underlining the need for dialogue and moderation to find a diplomatic solution in Nagorno Karabakh. Azerbaijan is an important partner: we also work together against human traffickers."

Afterwards, the Farnesina announced that Tajani met with his counterparts from Armenia and Azerbaijan, Ararat Mirzoyan and Jeyhun Bayramov, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. “I wanted to meet the two ministers today, in light of the tensions of the last few hours: I invited Azerbaijan to immediately cease military action,” he said, underlining the need to return to a constructive dialogue to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh. “I offered Rome's mediation to the two ministers, also proposing to evaluate the successful model of Alto Adige,” added the Foreign Minister.

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL https://www.startmag.it/economia/non-solo-leonardo-italia-punta-export-militare-in-azerbaijan/ on Sun, 24 Sep 2023 18:17:18 +0000.