Turkey not planning to revise Montreux Convention on Bosphorus rights
Russian Navy's large landing ship Korolev sails in the Bosphorus, on its way to the Mediterranean Sea, in Istanbul, Turkey, October 22, 2015. REUTERS/Murad SezerTurkey is not involved in any plans to revise the Montreux Convention that regulates international access to the Bosphorus and the Dardenelles Straits, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç said on Dec. 8, refuting reports that the convention could be renewed amid ongoing tension between Ankara and Moscow.
“We don’t currently have any preparation to that end. But anything could be subject to assessment due to developments,” Bilgiç said, referring to part of article that allows the accord to be revised every 20 years.
The issue has come to the agenda after footage emerged of a serviceman aboard Russia’s Caesar Kunikov landing ship apparently aiming a surface-to-air missile launcher towards Turkey’s largest city Istanbul on Dec. 6. Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov was summoned to the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Dec. 7 for an hour-long meeting over the incident.
Under the 1936 Montreux Convention, Turkey controls the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles Straits and regulates the passage of warships between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Seas.
The convention states that the Bosphorus’ main principle in peace time is freedom of passage. The convention limits the duration of the stay and the sizes of the military vessels’ belonging to non-literal countries in the Black Sea.
Moscow currently depends on the unrestricted access to the straits afforded it under the Montreux Convention. Through the straits, it sends supplies to Syria from its Novorossiysk naval base in the Black Sea to Russian ports in Tartus and Latakia.
Turkey can only block Russian military vessels from passing through the straits, invoking articles 20 or 21 of the Montreux Convention, if it is in war with Russia or if it considers herself to be threatened with imminent danger of war.
Relations between Ankara and Moscow are at their tensest since the end of the Cold War after the downing of a Russian warplane on Turkey’s border with Syria over violations of Turkish airspace.