Turkey, Turkish army admirals

Erdoğan accuses the admirals who signed the manifesto of attempting a coup

Turkish president reacted to the manifesto signed by 104 retired army admirals against the government, saying that it has coup implications.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan, in a press conference held late Monday, accused the 104 retired admirals of the Turkish army who signed a manifesto of attempting a coup through his statement, which he described as “malicious” and seeking a rebellion against the elected government within the Turkish Armed Forces.

Erdoğan thus referred to the statement signed on Saturday by 104 former admirals of the Turkish Navy in which they warned the government that it should maintain its commitment to the Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits as well as abandon its plans to build an artificial water canal in Istanbul. “Otherwise, the Republic of Turkey could face the most dangerous risks and threats,” the signatories warned.

The statement of the ex-military was produced as a result of a television interview granted on March 24 by the president of the parliament and an expert in constitutional jurisprudence, Mustafa Şentop, in which when asked about the authority of the Turkish president to abandon the Convention against Gender Violence he was hypothetically suggested if other treaties such as the Montreux Convention, signed in 1936, could also be abandoned.

“He can do it. Not only our president, but also that of Germany, the United States or France can do it as well. But there is a difference between what is possible and what is probable”, Şentop replied during the interview; he, however, last week insisted again that it was a hypothetical example and that it is not on the political agenda of Turkey to abandon any international treaty, including the Montreux Convention.

Erdoğan calls to the opposition for a firmer response

In his appearance made late on Monday, Erdoğan replied to the statement signed by the 104 retired admirals accusing them of leading an action that has “coup implications.” “It is not acceptable for 104 admirals to get together one night and make a statement like this… This cannot be classified as freedom of expression,” said the Turkish president.

Actions like these are not acceptable anywhere in the world. Furthermore, we would have liked to see a firmer position on the part of the opposition on this incident. We ask once again the main opposition party, the CHP, to be on the side of democracy,” said Erdoğan, openly criticising the tepid stance taken by the Kemalist party.

Erdoğan underlined that the statement seriously damages the morale and credibility of the armed forces. “Even though the declaration is signed by retired admirals, it is an attempt to defame the Turkish Armed Forces,” said the Turkish president, echoing the reaction of the Defence Minister, former general Hulusi Akar, who assured that the document only contributes to “making Turkey’s enemies happy” and “damaging our democracy.”

“In Turkey, all attacks against democracy have taken place after statements similar to this one,” Erdoğan warned, recalling the so-called “postmodern coup” of 1997. “Since in our government we have a firm stance against these attacks, they do not dare to continue with their plans, “said the Turkish president.

“We remain committed to the Montreux Convention”

Regarding a hypothetical exit of Turkey from the Montreux Convention, Erdoğan assured that the treaty has great importance for Ankara, but at the same time he did not rule out that there may be better alternatives in the future. “The Montreux Convention was an important achievement for Turkey in its time. We remain committed to the Montreux Convention, at least until there is a favorable alternative,” he added.

“We have no intention and we are not trying to abandon the Montreux Convention for now. But if in the future there are other options, in that case we would be ready to re-evaluate the terms of the Montreux Convention in the international arena”, Erdoğan insisted, adding that trying to establish a parallel between this treaty and the Istanbul Canal project “is totally wrong”.

Not only Erdoğan, but numerous authorities and many citizens on social media reacted angrily to the admirals who signed the manifesto, accusing them of interfering with democratic institutions and committing actions typical of former coups d’état. The chairman of the MHP party, an ally of Erdoğan’s AKP, has even called for the signatories’ pension and military rank to be withdrawn. At the moment, the prosecution has opened an investigation and there are already 10 detainees.