Turkey’s top diplomat slams ex-ambassadors over Montreux Treaty row
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has criticized a joint declaration signed by 126 retired ambassadors who said that the proposed Kanal Istanbul project may bring the validity of the 1936-dated Montreux Convention into question to the disadvantage of the Turkish interests.
“This is a purely political statement and does not address the legal aspects,” Çavuşoğlu told reports on Feb. 2 in Ankara, repeating that the Kanal Istanbul will not put the Montreux Convention at risk.
Some 126 retired ambassadors have issued a written statement and urged the government that opening an artificial seaway between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea would open the Montreux Convention up for discussion.
The convention limits the duration of the stay and the tonnage of the military vessels from all non-littoral countries in the Black Sea. It does stipulate a free passage of all civilian vessels but Turkey had imposed some restrictions on large tankers after some big accidents.
Çavuşoğlu recalled that the Foreign Ministry has conducted a study on the impacts of the Kanal Istanbul over the implementation of the Montreux Convention and that has openly shown that it won’t start a discussion on the international treaty.
“Canceling the treaty [through the Kanal Istanbul] is out of question. There is no such thing. The specifics about how to cancel this convention are well specified in the text. You don’t need to open a seaway to cancel it,” Çavuşoğlu said, adding that there has never been any attempt to invalidate the Montreux deal.
The convention introduces important regulations for the passage and stay of the civilian and military vessels from the non-littoral countries, Çavuşoğlu explained, “It’s not important which seaway they would use. They can either use the Kanal Istanbul or the Bosporus. When they use the Kanal Istanbul, they will have to make a payment.”
The convention does secure a free passage from the Bosporus, the minister recalls, stressing that Turkey will not force any vessel to use the artificial seaway.
“So it’s a pity for the former ambassadors. We always benefit from our former ambassadors and we appoint them to different missions. But this statement did also hurt the image of our foreign ministry. It’s a completely political statement and has no legal point of view,” he said.