Turkey detains 10 retired admirals over maritime treaty declaration
The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office said that arrest warrants had been issued for 10 suspects and ordered four other suspects to report to Ankara police within three days, opting not to detain them because of their age.
The prosecutor’s office opened a probe on April 4 into the retired admirals on suspicion of an “agreement to commit a crime against the state’s security and constitutional order.”
Before the arrest warrants were issued, the state-run Anadolu Agency said the prosecutor’s office had determined who initiated the open letter.
Those detained included Cem Gürdeniz, who is known with Turkey’s new maritime doctrine called “Blue Homeland,” Alaettin Sevim, Ergun Mengi, Atilla Kezek, Ramazan Nadir Hakan Eraydın, Bülent Olcay, Kadir Sağdıç, Türker Ertürk, Turgay Erdağ and Ali Sadi Ünsal.
In their letter, 104 retired military personnel had voiced concern over the existing treaty, which they said: “best protects Turkish interests.”
The government’s approval last month of plans to develop a shipping canal in Istanbul comparable to the Panama or Suez canals has opened up a debate about Turkey’s commitment to the 1936 Montreux Convention.
The pact is aimed at demilitarizing the Black Sea by setting strict commercial and naval rules on passage through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits leading to the Mediterranean.
The discussion started when Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop elaborated on broadcaster HaberTürk on March 24 about Turkey’s decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention.
The journalist asked, “What if one day one president says, ‘I withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights, I do not recognize Montreux, I’m dissolving it?’”
“He can. It’s not only our president but Germany, the U.S., or France can do as well. But there is a difference between possible and probable,” Şentop answered on the program.
The government officials have reacted angrily to the letter, claiming it appears to be a call for a coup.
“This is upsetting in the name of democracy,” Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül said on April 5.
“Our struggle against this dark mentality continues. The necessary response will be given within a legal framework,” Gül noted.
“This is an anti-democratic statement, and we all know perfectly well what it implies. Let us state this statement clearly. With its old tutelage habits, it means nothing but waving a finger at the national will at its elected representatives,” Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun told broadcaster A Haber on April 5.
Meanwhile, 124 former lawmakers made a statement supporting the letter by retired admirals and condemned the move of detaining them.
“As a requirement of pluralist democracy, attempts such as threats, accusations, assaults, intimidation and investigations against individuals and groups who share their views on Kanal Istanbul and Montreux by using the most natural right to citizenship are to mortgage their citizenship rights. We condemn this approach and these attempts, and we remind that we are still a state of law,” the lawmakers said in a statement on April 5.