'Coup paranoia': Opposition slams Turkish gov't reaction to retired admirals' Montreux statement

Opposition parties have slammed the government's reaction to a statement released by retired admirals, with the CHP congratulating the former soldiers for making "patriotic" criticism. "We're sick of this coup paranoia," İYİ Party deputy Aytun Çıray said.

Duvar English

Turkey's opposition parties have slammed the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for condemning a statement released by retired admirals regarding the Montreux Convention. 

Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Group Deputy Chair Engin Özkoç congratulated the former soldiers for making "patriotic" criticism. 

He also reminded the government that the signatories of the statement fought against putschists during the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt, which is widely believed to have been masterminded by U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen - an ally-turned-foe of the AKP.

The statement released late on April 3 called on the government to end the discussion on withdrawing from the Montreux Convention and stick to secularism in line with the principles of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, in the army. 

AKP officials were infuriated by the statement and claimed that the retired admirals suggested a coup. 

"Those who filled the Naval Forces with FETÖ members wouldn't be able to keep their seats if it weren't for the officers who were raised in line with Atatürk's principles," Özkoç tweeted on April 4, using the abbreviation of the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization - the Gülen network's official name. 

The Gülenists and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's AKP were once close allies, which led to the former filling state institutions. Their alliance ended over conflict of interests in 2013, but the coup attempt of 2016 is seen as a result of such infiltration. 

Right after the retired admirals' statement, ministers and high-level officials began tweeting about how the coup was thwarted on July 15, 2016 to praise the people who flocked to the streets against the putschists and "the national will." 

Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Garo Paylan, in response, asked the government to look at itself in the mirror if it's looking for a putschist.

"It's hypocritical to give lessons on the national will when you're imprisoning elected deputies and mayors. If you're looking for a putschist, just look at the mirror!" Paylan tweeted on April 4, referring to the government's crackdown on the HDP. 

Right-wing Good (İYİ) Party deputy Aytun Çıray lent full support to the former soldiers. 

"I sign under it as a lieutenant," Çıray said. 

"We're sick of this coup paranoia. This country has 400,000 soldiers, 300,000 police officers and the Turkish nation that's ready to die when opposing coups," he said, adding that everyone has the right to state their opinions. 

One of the retired admirals who signed the declaration, Atilla Kıyat, meanwhile, said that government officials would be ashamed to accuse the signatories of suggesting a coup if they read the statement again.