Turkey Arrests 14 Former Military Officers For A ‘Coup’ Manifesto
They are related to a manifesto, released last weekend, in which 104 ex-military personnel expressed their “concern” about the consequences of the plan to open a canal in Istanbul.
The public denunciation of the latest megaproject of the Government has led to a new hunt for critics. The Ankara Prosecutor’s Office has opened proceedings and ordered the arrest of 14 retired admirals of the Turkish Navy, including two media figures. They are related to a manifesto, released last weekend, in which 104 ex-military personnel expressed “concern” about the political and diplomatic consequences of the plan to open a channel in Istanbul.
The Islam-nationalist government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan has seen in the message, which followed another statement of a similar tone signed by 126 former Turkish diplomats, reminiscences of the coup. Not surprisingly, a memorandum from the military -which claims to be the custodian of the secular essence of Turkey-, in 1997, precipitated the fall of the coalition government made up of Islamists; In 2007, a message on the website of the Turkish Armed Forces triggered a government crisis and the repetition of elections.
Although in the past the soldiers pointed out the Islamist drift of the country as the reason for their irruption into political life — a recurring attitude that ended up meeting the rejection of all the parliamentary forces after the failed coup in July 2016 — the object One of the criticisms is, this time, the open debate on the possibility that the construction of the Istanbul canal undermines or even motivates Turkey’s withdrawal from the Montreux Treaty , which regulates maritime transit between the Turkish Straits.
The presidential spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin , called the statement of the former admirals of remembrance “times of coup”. “You should know that our esteemed nation and its representatives will never allow this mentality,” Kalin trilled. The head of the Communication Directorate of the Presidency, Fahrettin Altun , warned on Twitter that “not only those who signed, but also those who incited them will be held accountable to Justice.” The President is expected to issue a statement on Monday.
The issue has exploded on the Turkish agenda not only because of the sensitivity that any expression of the soldiery brings with it, but also because of the media coverage of the detainees. One of them is Cem Gürdeniz , who paradoxically inspired, with his Blue Homeland doctrine (Mavi Vatan), Erdogan’s recent expansionist policy in the Eastern Mediterranean, and who confronts Turkey with its neighbors. Another is Türker Ertürk , this one is a secular and fierce critic of the Government.
“The fact that the withdrawal of the Montreux Treaty and the authority to exit international treaties are the subject of debate, as part of the talks on the Istanbul Canal, is worrying,” reads the manifesto of the former admirals. Elsewhere in the text there is a critical reference to a recently released image in which a member of the Turkish Armed Forces poses in Islamic garb.
The agreement signed in Montreux in 1936 allowed the Turkish remilitarization of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits, years after the consolidation of the Republic of Turkey under the Treaty of Lausanne. The Convention regulates civil and military transit in times of peace and war by both sea lanes, an issue that particularly concerns Russia, bathed by the Black Sea. The Turkish desire to open a new alternative waterway to the Bosphorus has also opened a debate on the Treaty.
There is no consensus among experts on the commercial, political or diplomatic consequences of the planned Canal. Ozgur Unluhisarcikli , an analyst at the German Marshal Fund, tells AFP that “even if the new channel is not subject to the treaty, Turkey must unilaterally respect its terms.” What apparently worried the signatories were recent statements by AKP MP Mustafa Sentop , who attributed to Erdogan the protest to withdraw Turkey from the Montreux Treaty.
The Government defends the construction of the canal, approved a month ago, claiming that the Bosphorus is saturated — more than 38,000 ships crossed it last year and in recent times there have been incidents in it, which have hampered circulation-; the opposition, including the mayor of Istanbul, warn of the environmental impact and denounce that the Canal , with a budget of 8,300 million euros, is a pretext for an urban hit at the height of economic hardship for the population. The arrests raise the controversy to a political level in which criticizing the channel can be marked as a coup affront.
Originally published at https://zaviews.blogspot.com.