|[Published: Monday April 05 2021]
103 retired Turkish admirals sign letter in defense of Montreux Convention
ANKARA, 05 April. - (ANA) - Turkish authorities on Monday detained 10 former admirals after a group of more than 100 retired top navy officers issued a midnight statement that government officials tied to Turkey’s history of military coups.
The 10 retired admirals were detained as part of an investigation, launched by the chief prosecutor in Ankara on Sunday, over suspicions that they had reached “an agreement with the aim of committing a crime against the security of the state and the constitutional order,” the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
Four others were not detained because of their advanced ages but were asked to report to the authorities within three days, Anadolu reported.
A total of 103 retired admirals signed the statement declaring their commitment to an international treaty that regulates shipping through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits, which link the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea. The 14 suspects are believed to have organized the declaration.
The statement was issued amid a debate over whether Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who withdrew Turkey from a international convention to protect women last month, could also pull the country out of the 1936 Treaty of Montreux, which regulates the passage through the straits, and other international treaties.
Erdogan’s plans to build an alternative waterway to the north of Istanbul that would bypass the Bosporus, had also sparked debate over the Montreux treaty.
“The fact that withdrawing from the Montreux Convention was opened to debate as part of talks on Canal Istanbul and the authority to exit from international treaties was met with concern,” the retired admirals said in a declaration released late Saturday.
The statement triggered strong condemnation by ruling party and government officials who drew a parallel with statements that accompanied past military takeovers in Turkey.
Turkey experienced coups in 1960, 1971 and 1980, and a 1997 military intervention caused the resignation of an Islamist-led coalition government. In 2016, a failed coup led to more than 250 deaths.
Anadolu reported that those detained include Cem Gurdeniz, the name behind Turkey’s controversial “Blue Homeland” doctrine, which claims vast sections of the Mediterranean and Aegean and its undesea energy deposits. The concept is at odds with Greece and Cyprus’ claims in the region.
The suspects were detained at their homes in Ankara, Istanbul and Kocaeli, and were to be questioned by the chief prosecutor’s office in the capital.
The convention is "a great diplomatic victory that restored Turkey's sovereign rights to Istanbul, the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and Dardanelles," the letter continued.
The letter also expressed the need to preserve the current constitution of Turkey against the background of calls by Erdogan to develop a new basic law, and condemned the departure of the leadership of the Turkish Armed Forces from "the path outlined [by the founder of the republic] Mustafa Kemal Ataturk."
Parliament Speaker Mustafa Sentop slammed the letter, suggesting that it was calling for a coup.
The president's office has sharply criticized the letter.
'Who are you? Know your place! Our people showed on July 15  to friend and foe alike how we deal with coup attempts," the head of the presidential administration's communications, Fahrettin Altun, tweeted.
Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said that the retired officers put themselves in a "pathetic and ridiculous" situation with this letter.
The planned channel would run near the Bosporus strait and have similar shipping traffic capacity. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that the Montreux Convention which focuses on the passage of ships through the Bosporus strait would not apply to the new waterway. At the same time, according to Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, the project's aim is not for Turkey to abandon the convention.
The Montreux Convention was adopted in 1936 and guarantees the freedom of passage through the straits for merchant ships of all countries; both in peacetime and in wartime. However, the rules of passage of warships are different for the Black Sea states and others. For the warships of the non-Black Sea powers, significant restrictions on class and duration of stay have been introduced. - (ANA) -
AB/ANA/05 April 2021 - - -