Erdogan Summons Cabinet After Ex-Admirals Challenge Policy
(Bloomberg) -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan summoned his cabinet and top officials for an unscheduled meeting on Monday, after a group of retired navy admirals criticized the government’s stance on a key international convention in a move that was seen as a direct challenge to the Erdogan’s authority.
Erdogan’s communications director Fahrettin Altun on Sunday accused the former admirals of insinuating that the government should be overthrown and said that a public prosecutor was starting a probe into the incident. The cabinet will convene at 3 p.m. local time, followed by a meeting with the ruling AK Parti’s central executive committee at 6 p.m.
The group of former admirals said in a joint statement on Saturday that it was a misguided government policy to question the future of the so-called Montreux Convention, saying that the 1936 treaty is a guarantee of peace in the Black Sea, which Turkey borders along with Russia and Ukraine.
The admirals issued their statement shortly after Parliament Speaker Mustafa Sentop suggested Erdogan had the power to withdraw from the treaty if he wanted to, although he later backtracked, saying he was trying to make a point about the president’s powers and not about a particular policy agenda. His comments on the Montreux accord revived a discussion about Canal Istanbul, Erdogan’s multi-billion project to build a new strait across Istanbul to bypass the Bosporus.
The statement by the former admirals “has no other use than to harm democracy and the motivation and morale of the Turkish Armed Forces,” according to a Turkish Defense Ministry statement. “We believe that the Turkish justice system will take necessary steps,” the ministry said.
Erdogan’s critics argue that the canal would be an environmental catastrophe and make Turkey’s largest city unlivable. Opposition parties also said the treaty will keep Turkey out of potential conflicts in the future. The convention limits deployments in the Black Sea to 21 days for ships that don’t belong to coastal states and bars the passage of all aircraft carriers.
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