Responding to a controversial statement by retired Turkish admirals, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the statement implicated a coup, insulted armed forces and attacked democracy.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks in Ankara, Turkey, April 05, 2021.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks in Ankara, Turkey, April 05, 2021. (AA)

Retired Turkish admirals’ declaration implicated a coup, insulted armed forces and attacked the national will and democracy, Turkey’s president has said as he emphasised that Ankara is committed to staying in the 1936 Montreux treaty governing the Turkish straits and is aware of its benefits.

"We currently have neither any efforts nor intention to leave the Montreux Convention," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters after a meeting of top governing Justice and Development (AK) Party leaders on Monday, adding that his administration would not hesitate in the future to review any agreements to help improve Turkey.

The meeting was called to discuss a controversial statement by retired Turkish admirals who called on the government not to open the Montreux Convention up to debate, a statement that led many to accuse the ex-officers of plotting a coup against the government.

On Sunday the ex-admirals posted a statement online urging the avoidance of any rhetoric or action that could make the convention the subject of debate. Prosecutors in the capital Ankara subsequently started an investigation into the men behind the statement.

The controversial statement also denounced alleged "efforts” to show the Turkish Armed Forces and the Naval Forces as departing from the path laid down by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.

It also said that Turkey could face “dangerous … events, risks, and threats to its survival, something which we know from our history."

READ MORE: Turkey condemns retired admirals' declaration on political matters

Admirals detained

10 of the retired admirals were detained as part of the investigation over suspicions that they had reached "an agreement with the aim of committing a crime against the security of the state and the constitutional order,” Anadolu Agency reported.

Four others were not detained because of their advanced ages, but they were asked to report to authorities within three days, AA reported.

The suspects were detained at their homes in Ankara, Istanbul and Kocaeli, and were to be questioned by the chief prosecutor's office in the capital.

'Harm Turkey’s democracy'

Fahrettin Altun, the country's communications director, described the statement as finger-waving “at the nation’s will and its elected representatives, as a leftover habit of the old guardianship regime.”

“We cannot and do not view (the statement) as innocent,” he said.

Altun had said these retired admirals were living "in the old Turkey" and told them to remain seated and not be involved in the country's political matters as they were retired and should remain so.

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, a former chief of military staff, said the declaration served no purpose other than to “harm Turkey’s democracy, break the Turkish Armed Forces’ personnel’s morale, and please our enemies.”

The military staged three coups between 1960-1980 and, with a statement by the National Security Council, pressured the government out of power in 1997. Another coup was attempted in 2016.

Montreux, signed in 1936, gives Turkey control over the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits within its borders, and during peacetime guarantees access for civilian vessels.

It also limits access of naval warships and governs foreign cargo ships.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies