Former diplomats warn Istanbul canal project will risk Turkey’s security

Some 126 retired Turkish ambassadors and consul generals penned an open letter warning the government that building an artificial canal in Istanbul could bring the 1936 Montreux Convention into question and undermine Turkey’s security, T-24 news site reported.

The convention places the Bosporus and Dardanelles fully under Turkish control, but also guarantees the passage of civilian vessels in peacetime.

Turkey might lose its absolute sovereignty over Bosporus and Dardanelles straits and the Sea of Marmara if it puts the Montreux Convention under risk, the former diplomats said.

“The Montreux is a convention that prevents Turkey to unwillingly enter a war in wartime on the side of one of the warring parties,” they said.

“The Montreux is also an essential document for Russia’s security,” the diplomats said, adding that the convention blocked Moscow’s possible claims over rights to use Turkey’s territorial waters.

The United States has also been trying to undermine the convention for years, seeing it as an obstacle preventing its presence in the Black Sea, they said.

The diplomats called on the government to cancel plans for Kanal Istanbul, saying that the project would only serve the interests of other countries.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says Kanal Istanbul, one of his megaprojects, will strengthen the country’s economic and strategic power by creating an alternative to the Bosporus Straits.

The canal, which is estimated to stretch 45 to 50 km from the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea, will create irreversible damage on the environment if built, experts and environmental groups say.