Turkey: Erdogan accuses retired admirals of hinting at “coup” | News from Recep Tayyip Erdogan

The Turkish president slams former naval officers who have warned his plans for a new Istanbul canal threatened a maritime treaty.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said a statement from former admirals warning that his plans for a new canal in Istanbul jeopardized the Montreux Convention maritime deal hinted at a “political coup,” while adding that he was attached to the pact.

Earlier Monday, Turkish prosecutors arrested 10 retired admirals and ordered four others to surrender to sign the declaration supporting the 85-year-old maritime agreement governing the use of the Bosporus and Dardanelles on the grounds that they were conspiring against constitutional order.

Officials said their statement, signed by more than 100 former high-ranking members of the navy, posed a direct challenge to the civilian government and referred to past interventions by the military.

The suspects were held at their homes in Ankara, Istanbul and Kocaeli, and were to be questioned by the capital’s attorney general’s office.

“The duty of retired admirals – 104 of whom meet – is not to issue statements alluding to a political coup,” Erdogan said on Monday.

“It is by no means acceptable that 104 retired admirals make such an attempt in the middle of the night in a country whose history is full of coups and memoranda. We cannot call it freedom of speech.

The military staged three coups between 1960 and 1980 and, with a statement from the National Security Council, lobbied the first Islamist-led government out of power in 1997. Another coup was attempted in 2016.

Authorities last month approved a plan to develop a new 45 km (28 mile) shipping lane – connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranean – comparable to the Panama or Suez Canals, but this has raised questions on Turkey’s commitment to the Montreux Convention.

The pact of 1936 aims to demilitarize the Black Sea by setting strict commercial and naval rules on the passage of the Strait of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles leading to the Mediterranean.

the retired admirals worry that the construction of the new canal would lead Turkey to abandon the treaty, to irritate Russia and to lose its neutrality in this unstable region.

“We are of the opinion to refrain from any kind of rhetoric or action that could make the Montreux Convention… a subject of controversy,” they said.

Erdogan said it was “completely wrong” to tie the proposed channel to the treaty.

“We currently have no effort or intention to leave the Montreux Convention,” he said.

But he added that the proposed channel “will strengthen our sovereignty”, hinting that Turkey may withdraw from the pact at a later date.

“But if the need arises in the future, we could revise each convention to help our country improve.”

Kanal Istanbul (Istanbul Canal) is the most ambitious of what Erdogan calls his ‘crazy projects’, which have seen him build new airports, bridges, roads and tunnels during his 18 years in power.

Turkey’s defense ministry said the admirals’ letter had “no other purpose than to undermine our democracy.”

“They [the admirals] You should know that our esteemed nation and its representatives will never allow this mentality, ”President Ibrahim Kalin’s spokesperson said on Twitter.

The main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party, said the government was seeking to distract from more critical issues, including a 12% shock. depreciation of the lira two weeks ago, and record the daily cases of coronavirus. Erdogan blamed the opposition for this statement.

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