A group of former deputies released a statement Monday supporting the 104 retired navy admirals who signed a "declaration" that warns the government to keep the commitment to the Montreux Convention and to abandon plans to build a new canal in Istanbul.
The former deputies, who served from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) in different parliamentary terms, said in the statement that the government should refrain from discrediting the Montreux Convention, which is “Turkey’s biggest diplomatic success after the Lausanne Treaty and a guarantee of Turkey’s authority over Istanbul and Dardanelles straits.”
Most figures among the 96 names that signed the statement constitute the centrist-Kemalist cadres of the party, of which mostly represent the CHP's intraparty dissidents.
The deputies added that it is wrong to accuse the retired admirals of having putschist intentions for voicing their opinion.
Prior to the admirals, 126 former ambassadors had voiced their opposition against Montreux Convention becoming a subject of debate.
The declaration drew mixed reactions from opposition parties and figures.
Turkish officials on Sunday strongly condemned the declaration, which has drawn a strong reaction from the government and the public saying it implies interference in democratic institutions and public will.
The Ankara Prosecutor’s Office also launched an investigation based on Article 316/1 of the Turkish Penal Code. In a statement, the prosecutor’s office said the 10 suspects were detained to prevent the destruction of evidence and to determine other suspects involved in the incident, while four other suspects were not detained due to their age but were told to report to the Ankara Police Directorate within three days.
After Turkey's decision last month to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, a European treaty aimed at preventing and combating violence against women, with a presidential decree, it came into question whether Turkey could withdraw from other international agreements the same way. In a TV interview, Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop said that technically it is possible and gave the example of the Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits. Following discussions about Şentop's statements, 104 retired admirals on Saturday released a statement warning the government.
"We are of the opinion to refrain from any kind of rhetoric or action that could make the Montreux Convention ... a matter of controversy," they said.
The Montreux Convention is a 1936 agreement that gives Turkey control over the Bosporus and Dardanelles and regulates the transit of naval warships. The convention guarantees the free passage of civilian vessels in times of peace and restricts the passage of naval ships that do not belong to littoral Black Sea states. Signed on July 20, 1936, at the Montreux Palace in Switzerland, the convention gives Turkey permission to remilitarize the Bosporus and Dardanelles. It went into effect on Nov. 9, 1936, and was registered in the League of Nations Treaty Series on Dec. 11, 1936.
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