Ex-soldiers' declaration unacceptable: Erdoğan
“Turning issues that can be resolved within democracy and rule of law into the pretext of coup declarations is not a demonstration of constitutional allegiance against the political authority, but a clear threat to the constitution,” Erdoğan said on April 5 following a meeting with top officials at the Presidential Complex.
He said the declaration cannot be seen as exercising freedom of expression.
“It is not the job of retired admirals to come together and publish declarations that contain hints of a coup on a political debate,” he said.
The meeting was called to discuss a controversial statement by retired Turkish admirals who called on the government not to open the Montreux Convention up to debate, a statement that led many to accuse the ex-officers of plotting a coup against the government.
Calling the statement a "midnight act” and a “malevolent attempt," Erdoğan said no retired public official has the right to resort to such statements in a collective manner.
"Freedom of speech cannot include sentences threatening an elected administration with a coup," the president said.
"The way that issues which could be resolved through the law and democracy are made into an excuse for statements implying a coup constitutes a clear threat to the Constitution," he added.
Erdoğan said the 1936 convention was reached following long negotiations and that control of the straits was handed to Turkey instead of an international commission with “many limitations.”
Stressing that the convention was a step forward for Turkey given the historical context, Erdoğan said the country would stick to the deal until it finds the opportunity for a better one, but also pointed to issues such as safe navigation and time loss due to heavy traffic in the straits.
*Any attempt to link the treaty with Turkey’s massive Canal Istanbul project – which would provide an alternate route to the Black Sea – is fundamentally misguided, said Erdoğan, adding:
"While easing its heavy maritime load in the Bosporus thanks to Canal Istanbul, Turkey will also get an alternative under its full sovereignty outside the limitations of Montreux. This is [part of] our struggle for sovereignty."
On Sunday the ex-admirals posted an online statement urging the avoidance of any rhetoric or action that could make the Montreux Convention the subject of debate. Prosecutors in the capital Ankara subsequently started an investigation into the men behind the statement.
The controversial statement also denounced alleged "efforts” to show the Turkish Armed Forces and the Naval Forces as departing from the path laid down by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.
It also warned that Turkey could face “dangerous … events, risks, and threats to its survival, something which we know from our history."