Ten retired admirals were arrested in Turkey on Monday, a day after an open letter was published criticizing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plans to dig a canal in Istanbul.
The open letter was signed by about a hundred former Navy officers. They say that the canal threatens the free passage of civilian ships in the Bosphorus between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. They fear that Turkey wants to withdraw from the Montreux Treaty, which has been regulating free passage in the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles since 1936. After all, the new canal could be an alternative to the Bosphorus that is not covered by the Montreux Treaty.
Immediately after the open letter was published, there was strong reaction from the government. “Not only those who signed the speech, but everyone who encouraged them will have to respond in court,” Erdogan’s communications director, Fakhruddin Altun, wrote on Twitter.
The lawyer announced the opening of an investigation into a “conspiracy against state security and the constitutional order.”
Turkey announced plans in mid-January to start building a 45-kilometer canal between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara this year. The waterway should relax the Bosphorus, the natural link between Bahrain.