Turkey warns parties to stay away from Black Sea

Turkey warns parties to stay away from Black Sea

Turkey warns parties to stay away from Black Sea

Turkey said on Feb. 28 it informed both Black Sea and non-Black Sea countries to not pass warships through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits in line with a convention that gives it control over the passage of military vessels in the strategic area.

“We have alerted all riparian and non-riparian countries not to pass warships through the Black Sea,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

“We are applying the Montreux Convention,” he stated.

“There has been no passage or a request for passage through the straits until today,” the minister said, noting that if a warship is returning to its base in the Black Sea, the passage cannot be blocked.

Turkey will apply the Montreux Convention in the Black Sea in a way to prevent further escalation in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Feb. 28. “We have decided to use the authority given to our country by the Montreux Convention in a way to prevent the escalation of the crisis,” he said at a press conference after the cabinet meeting.

Ankara is in favor of respecting Ukraine’s sovereignty, political and territorial integrity, the president said. “We consider Russia’s attack unacceptable and appreciate the struggle of the Ukrainian people,” he added.

Erdoğan has just clarified Turkey’s position as a NATO member: “Not to abandon either Russia or Ukraine” and not to “cede Turkey’s national interests.”

Ukraine had last week officially asked Turkey to close the Dardanelles Strait - and thus access to the Black Sea - to Russian ships.

The 1936 Montreux Convention governs the free movement of commercial ships in peacetime through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles straits.

But it grants Turkey the right to restrict the passage of warships in the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits that connect the Aegean, the Marmara, and the Black seas in wartime.

Any attempt for the erosion of Montreux, the deterioration of the status quo does not benefit anyone, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said. “As we have done so far, we will continue to implement Articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Montreux Straits Convention,” he stated.