Russia has warned Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to respect the Montreux Treaty, which gives control of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits to Turkey and regulates sea traffic, following his unveiling of plans for a new canal.
Russian Ambassador to Turkey Vladimir Ivanovsky told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review that they are still trying to understand the Istanbul Canal project themselves, and that no information had been given to him on the validity of the rumor that the project would be financed by Russian companies.
If the Montreux Treaty is enforced, then the right of free passage will remain and no income will be made from the canal, the Russian ambassador said, highlighting not only the international legal aspects of the project, but also the economic impact.
“To provide a better comment, we would have to know more about the project. But even the Turkish Foreign Ministry does not have a lot of information on it. We are at the information-gathering stage at this point,” said Ivanovsky.
“The only information we have is what the prime minister said,” the ambassador added. Erdoğan announced his plans Wednesday for his “crazy project” – a second strait in Istanbul meant in part to ease shipping congestion on the overcrowded Bosphorus.
“We normally handle the issues of passage through the Bosporus and the topic of energy with the Foreign Ministry. And from what we understand, they do not have any additional information on the matter,” Ivanovsky said.
“We are most concerned with the international legal aspect of the project. The stance of Turkey, Russia and other relevant countries is to preserve the Montreux Treaty. This must be looked into,” he added.
Ivanovsky added that “such a project must be economically rewarding,” but questioned whether it would actually be so.
“More ships passing means more income from the passage fee. This is the only way it can be a profitable investment. But if passage is free through the Bosphorus, then why would anyone use this canal?” the Russian ambassador asked. “As you can see, we are now faced with more questions than answers.”
The Montreux Convention of 1936 gives Turkey full control over the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits and guarantees the free passage of civilian vessels in peacetime. It severely restricts the passage of non-Turkish military vessels. The terms of the convention have been the source of controversy over the years, most notably concerning the Soviet Union’s military access to the Mediterranean Sea.
Treaty restricts passage of warships
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
The principal provisions of the Montreux Treaty governing the passage of vessels of war through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits are as follows:
- Aircraft carriers, whether belonging to countries around the Black Sea or not, can under no circumstance pass through the Turkish straits.
- Only submarines belonging to Black Sea states can pass through the Turkish straits, and only for the purpose of rejoining their base in the Black Sea for the first time after their construction or purchase, or for the purpose of repair in dockyards outside the Black Sea.
- The total number and the maximum aggregate tonnage of all foreign naval forces that may pass through the Turkish straits are limited to nine and 15,000 tons, respectively.
- The maximum aggregate tonnage that non-Black Sea countries may have in the body of water is 45,000 tons. The maximum aggregate tonnage of the vessels of war that one non- Black Sea country may have in the sea is 30,000 tons.
- Vessels of war belonging to non-Black Sea states cannot stay more than 21 days in the Black Sea.
- Advance notification must be given to Turkey of all passages through the Turkish straits. The notification time is eight days for vessels of war belonging to Black Sea states, and 15 days for those of other countries.
Source : Hurriyet Daily News