103 retired Turkish admirals issued a statement Saturday night denouncing the ruling AKP party for challenging the Montreux Convention and Islamizing the army over a meeting of an in-service rear-admiral with the leader of an extremist sect.
“It is being observed with concern that the Montreux Convention is being questioned in the context of both the Istanbul Canal project and who has the power to cancel international treaties,” the admirals said in their statement on Veryansın TV.
The Montreux Convention, signed in Switzerland in 1936, gave Turkey control rights over the two straits, the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles, while restricting the passage of warships from the straits only to countries bordering the Black Sea.
The admirals described the convention as “the only biggest diplomatic victory that completed the Lausanne Peace Treaty”, which defined most modern-day Turkey’s borders in 1923, and added that the Turkish Straits were “among the most important waterways in the world”.
They also referred to the executive order recently signed by Erdogan to withdraw Turkey from the European Council’s Treaty on Combating Violence Against Women, known as the Istanbul Convention.
Opposition figures and legal experts say it is illegal for Erdogan to leave international treaties this way, and that a majority in the Turkish parliament is needed to do so.
Erdogan also remains adamant about the Istanbul’s artificial waterway project, which is going to create another strait at the western end of the city if built. The Turkish government says the canal will be used for high-risk ships, such as oil tankers, to reduce traffic in Bosphorus.
“We believe that all actions and rhetoric that could lead to the questioning of the Montreux Convention, which is important for the survival of Turkey, must be avoided,” the admirals said.
The admirals also noted that the Turkish Armed Forces had lost many members due to the Gulen movement, and that the Turkish army should “carefully adhere to the fundamental values of the constitution.”
“For these reasons, we condemn the efforts to ward off the armed forces from these values and from the course taken by Ataturk, as this would endanger democracy and Turkey itself,” they said.
These statements caused intense reactions in Turkey, especially from the ruling party, with the characteristic reactions of Mustafa Sentop, Fuat Oktay and Ibraim Kalin who in their twitter posts stated that the admirals’ statements are inciting a coup.