Retired admirals’ midnight declaration sparks debate in Turkey

A ferry sails as the sun sets over the Marmara Sea in Istanbul, Turkey, January 15, 2021. (REUTERS)Short Url

https://arab.news/j3973

  • Controversy over artificial waterway project and international agreement

ARAB NEWS April 05,2021 

ANKARA: A strongly worded statement from 103 retired admirals in Turkey about a government project has sparked debate, with some seeing it as an implicit coup threat and others as an exercise in free speech.

The admirals used their declaration to criticize the Kanal Istanbul, a multibillion-dollar artificial waterway connecting the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea to ease shipping traffic on the Bosphorus Straits. They also addressed the prospect of possible revisions to the 1936 Montreux Convention, which is about control of the Istanbul Straits.


Their statement triggered an urgent central committee meeting of the ruling Justice and Development Party for Monday to discuss the issue in detail, and Ankara’s Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation into the signatories.

One of the signatories was 63-year-old Cem Gurdeniz. He was the architect of Turkey’s “Blue Homeland” maritime doctrine, and his vision gained increased popularity last year with the country’s activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.


“The fact that withdrawing from the Montreux Convention was opened to discussion related to the Kanal Istanbul and the authority to exit from the international treaties was met with concern,” the statement said. “Kanal Istanbul will open the Montreux Convention to discussion, and will lead to Turkey’s total loss of sovereignty over the Sea of ​​Marmara.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• The admirals addressed the prospect of possible revisions to the 1936 Montreux Convention, which is about control of the Istanbul Straits. 

• The statement triggered an urgent central committee meeting of the ruling Justice and Development Party for Monday to discuss the issue in detail.

• The admirals stressed that the convention was an agreement that ‘best protects Turkish interests.’

• A few days ago, 126 retired Turkish diplomats released a statement to warn the government over the same issue.

In a 2018 decree Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan assigned himself authority to withdraw the country from any international treaty or
pact, such as the Montreux Convention, without parliamentary approval.


Last month Turkey approved plans to develop the 45-kilometer canal project and, since then, the status of the Montreux Convention has become a hot topic.


The admirals stressed that the convention was an agreement that “best protects Turkish interests.” A few days ago, 126 retired Turkish diplomats released a statement to warn the government over the same issue.
The convention gives free passage to all civilian vessels, and determines the mode of entry, duration of stay and tonnage of warships from nonlittoral countries.


Kanal Istanbul will shorten the route of naval vessels from nonlittoral countries to reach their destinations in the Black Sea as long as they pay the necessary fees.


But, if no further abrupt revision is made to the convention, these vessels have to respect the rules of Montreux as they will enter Kanal Istanbul from the Dardanelles straits that are still determined by this decades-long international regime.


In a country still shaken by the failed coup attempt of 2016, the admirals’ declaration caused anger in government circles and led to claims that it was reminiscent of past coup periods.

Categories: The Muslim Times

Tagged as: ,

1 reply

  1. Any news about Turkey coming out of Saudi Arabia may be a bit biased, needs to be cross-checked.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.