President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has slammed 104 retired admirals’ a joint statement against a recent debate on Turkey’s retreat from the Montreux Convention that regulates sovereignty rights of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits, saying that some of the signatories are members of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).
“You will see it soon on the media. The main opposition party is at the center of this thing,” Erdoğan said, following an evaluation meeting in Ankara on April 5.
Earlier in the day 10 of the former admirals out of 104 who undersigned the statement were detained as part of an investigation launched by Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s office, with four others being invited to testify within three days. They are accused of crimes related to “security of the state and Constitutional order,” reports said.
The admirals objected to any possibility of withdrawal from the Montreux Convention, a 1936 agreement that gives Turkey control over the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits and regulates the transit of naval warships. The retired soldiers also criticized a current officer who appeared in a video shooting wearing a religious rob over his uniform at a cult meeting.
Erdoğan assured that Turkey has no intention to retreat from the convention, also adding that the Turkish Armed Forces launched a probe into the officer in rob.
Still, he slammed the admirals for “releasing statements with coup implications.”
He also recalled that the July 15, 2016 coup attempt in Turkey failed, blaming “some of the retired admirals” for “not standing by the nation” during the attempt.
The debate on retreat from Montreux began when Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop from AKP ranks commented on Erdoğan’s midnight decree on March 21 to retreat from the Istanbul Convention that introduces measures to prevent violence against women. Turkey could “technically” could retreat from international agreements, he said, mentioning the Montreux Convention, a founding agreement of modern Turkey. Şentop later said he was misunderstood.
Opposition criticizes government for distraction
Before Erdoğan’s speech, leading government figures had accused the former soldiers of “implying coup.”
Media reports said the right to accommodation of the signatories at lodging buildings was cancelled.
The main opposition has accused the government for “creating an artificial agenda” to avoid debates on the situation of the economy.
CHP lawmaker Sezgin Tanrıkulu said the detention of the retired soldiers was a “coup against freedom of thought.
İYİ Party leader Meral Akşener criticized the signatories for “silly talk,” but also slamming the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for “making use of the situation.”
Annual inflation hits 16.19 pct
As the coup debate marked the agenda, the official inflation rate was announced at 19.19 percent, far from the government’s lingering target of single-digit. The monthly inflation rate stood at 1.08 percent in March. The rate came in the face of the Turkish Lira’s value fluctuating against the U.S. dollar.
100 journalists tried in one month
Separately, main opposition lawmaker Utku Çakırözer –a former journalist– announced the monthly Press Freedom Report of his party. According to the report 100 journalists appeared before a judge last month. The report said six journalists were sentenced to 15 years and two months in jail last month.