‘Unacceptable’ declaration by ex-admirals implies coup, says Erdoğan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday said a declaration by over 100 former admirals backing the Montreux Convention maritime accord went beyond freedom of expression and implied a coup.

The statement issued late Saturday was "ill-intentioned’’ in terms of its method and the debate it would inevitably create,T24 news site cited Erdoğan as saying during a press conference after the cabinet meeting at the presidential complex in Ankara.

Turkey on Monday detained 10 retired admirals for signing the 104-signatory declaration supporting the accord, which governs the use of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits. The former navy admirals are accused of "conspiracy to commit crimes against the security of the state and the constitutional order.”

"The role of retired admirals is not for 104 to convene and publish declarations that contain coup implications on a topic of political debate,’’ Erdoğan said. "No public servant has the right to resort to such a thing en masse.’’

The Turkish president went to say that it was unacceptable for such a joint statement to be issued in a country, whose past was filled with military interventions.

"We cannot call this freedom of expression,’’ he said. "Freedom of expression does not contain sentences that begin with ‘otherwise’ and threaten the elected administration of the country with a coup.’’  

The Turkish presidential office has condemned the declaration, saying it was “reminiscent of coup times” during Turkey’s past.

Turkish government approval last month of plans to develop Kanal Istanbul, an artificial waterway project to create a second connection between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea through western Istanbul, which has opened up a debate about the 1936 Montreux Convention.