The facts on retired admirals and Montreux Convention
The former Turkish admirals posted an online statement urging the avoidance of any rhetoric or action that could make the Montreux Convention the subject of debate. Prosecutors in the capital Ankara subsequently started an investigation into the men behind the statement.
The statement denounced alleged "efforts” to show the Turkish Armed Forces and the Naval Forces as departing from the path laid down by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.
The statement also warned that Turkey could face “dangerous … events, risks, and threats to its survival, something which we know from our history."
The admirals are suspected of conspiring against state security and constitutional order. Thus, Turkey detained 10 retired admirals who signed a statement related with the Montreux Convention. The statement, signed by 104 former high-ranking navy personnel, drew a backlash from Turkish officials because it as a direct challenge from the military to the civilian government. Four other suspects were called to report to police within three days as part of the investigation into the statement.
The statement seems to have the hallmarks of a military plot to overthrow the government. A group of retired soldiers are putting themselves into a laughable and miserable position with their statement that echoes military coup times.
The Montreux Convention, signed in 1936, governs the use of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits by cargo ships from other countries. It gives Turkey control over the straits within its borders, and during peacetime guarantees access for civilian vessels. It also limits access of naval warships.
Turkey is committed to staying in the 1936 Montreux treaty governing passages in the Bosporus Strait, said the Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
"We currently have neither any efforts nor intention to leave the Montreux Convention," Recep Tayyip Erdogan told and added that his administration would not hesitate in the future to review any agreements to get a better deal for Turkey.
A meeting was called to discuss a controversial statement by retired Turkish admirals who called on the government not to open the Montreux Convention up to debate, a statement that led many to accuse the ex-officers of plotting a coup against the government. President Erdogan called the statement a "midnight act” and a “malevolent attempt."
That is unusual to see that unretired public official has the right to resort to such statements in a collective manner.
"Freedom of speech cannot include sentences threatening an elected administration with a coup," the president said.
"The way that issues which could be resolved through the law and democracy are made into an excuse for statements implying a coup constitutes a clear threat to the Constitution," he added.
Erdogan said the 1936 convention was reached following long negotiations and that control of the straits was handed to Turkey instead of an international commission with “many limitations.”
Stressing that the convention was a step forward for Turkey given the historical context, Erdogan said the country would stick to the deal until it finds the opportunity for a better one, but also pointed to issues such as safe navigation and time loss due to heavy traffic in the straits.
As a result, the statement by former admirals in support of the Montreux Convention maritime accord went beyond freedom of expression and had implications of a coup. That is the reason of why Turkey detained 10 retired admirals for signing the statement.