BERLIN, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- German arms exports to countries outside the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have grown substantially in 2017, German media reported on Tuesday.
According to an official response by the ministry of economics to a Left Party (Linke) parliamentary enquiry, Germany approved the export of arms worth 1.27 billion euros (1.49 billion U.S. dollars) in the third quarter of 2017.
The majority of these sales were destined for countries which are neither members of the EU, nor of NATO, nor of "NATO equivalent" states under German law, which includes Switzerland, Japan, New Zealand and Australia.
The biggest recipient of German arms amongst so-called "third states" this year was Egypt (298 million euros), followed by Saudi Arabia (148 million euros) and Israel (84 million euros).
The ministerial response cited by German media did not offer any information on the types of weapons provided. Nevertheless, the publication of the data has sparked a heated debate in Germany, in particular over the legitimacy of arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
Left Party politician Stefan Liebich, who launched the parliamentary enquiry, consequently criticized the "massively-increased approvals" to Saudi Arabia as well as Egypt.
Greens politician Agnieszka Brugger voiced a similar opinion in the newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Brugger vowed that her party would fight to create a "binding" legal framework for German arms exports which ensured that "strict rules on paper were finally abided by in reality."
The Greens have repeatedly called for a stricter regime governing arms exports in Germany in the current "Jamaica" coalition negotiations. (1 euro = 1.18 U.S. dollars)