Erdogan Calls on Putin to Continue Talks

Turkish Admirals Arrested After Criticism of Erdogan’s Plan

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Ten retired admirals have been arrested in Turkey after they, along with nearly 100 other former naval officers, complained about a construction project by President Erdogan’s government.

 

A government spokesman said the open letter from the former officers poses a military threat against the elected civilian government and is reminiscent of times when military coups were staged in the country. It is, according to the prosecutors, “a conspiracy against the constitutional order”.

Police have ordered four more former officers to report to a station next week, but they have not been arrested due to their age. In a statement, 104 former senior officers of the Turkish navy are opposed to the government’s plan.

In their view, this means a de facto withdrawal from the Treaty of Montreux (1936), an international regulation of navigation in the Bosphorus and Dardanelles. The former navy officials argue that the treaty is crucial to Turkey and allowed the country to remain neutral in World War II. They believe that the government should not make statements or make plans that call into question the treaty.

Erdogan believes that the ex-military is going too far with their freedom of expression. According to him, their statement hint at a coup d’├ętat. That is unacceptable in a country with many military coups, he says. The president continues to support the treaty.

With the Treaty of Montreux, Turkey regained control of navigation in strategic waterways after this had previously been done by an international commission of the United Nations’ predecessor, the League of Nations.

Among other things, the treaty guarantees free passage for civilian shipping in peacetime and restricts the passage of naval ships from countries outside the Black Sea. The Turkish government is building a canal about 30 kilometres west of the Bosphorus. Once completed, that canal could serve as an alternative Bosphorus that is not covered by the treaty.

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