Turkish prosecutors seek up to 12 years for ex-admirals over Montreux Convention statement

Turkish prosecutors are seeking up to 12 years in prison for 103 retired admirals who in April voiced concern that the Montreux Convention could be debated or abandoned.

Duvar English

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office has drafted an indictment seeking up to 12 years in prison for each of the 103 retired admirals who issued a statement in April emphasizing the importance of the Montreux Convention for Turkish security.

The retired admirals are accused of “having agreed to commit a crime against the constitutional order.”

The April statement has drawn a strong backlash from ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials who saw it as a direct challenge from the military to the civilian government. The government went as far as to accuse the former soldiers of suggesting a coup. 

The statement came as the AKP said that it plans to forward with plans to construct a massive canal connecting the Black Sea north of Istanbul to the Sea of Marmara to the south, parallel to the Bosphorus.

The controversial Kanal Istanbul project then triggered a debate on the revision of the 1936 Montreux Convention, with retired generals releasing a statement on April 1 to warn the government. They were initially detained for their statement but were later released pending trial.

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) at the time said the government sought to distract from more critical issues, including the economic crisis and COVID-19 pandemic, whereas President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan blamed the opposition for the statement.

Montreux, signed in 1936, gives Turkey control over the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits within its borders, and during peacetime guarantees access for civilian vessels. It also limits access of naval warships and governs foreign cargo ships.