Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Sunday that Turkey had decided that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a “war”.
“Is it a conflict or a war? We decided that. Article 19 of the Montreux Convention is very clear. It’s a war,” he said in a live interview with CNN Turk.
Turkey’s recognition is important for the application of the Montreux Convention of 1936 which regulates naval passage through the Turkish strait.
The Montreux Convention gives Turkey some control over the passage of warships through the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits that connect the Aegean, Marmara and Black Seas.
In times of peace, warships can cross the strait upon prior diplomatic notification with certain limitations regarding the weight of the ships and the weapons they carry depending on whether or not the ship belongs to a Black Sea country.
In times of war, when Turkey is not at war, warships may use straits except those belonging to belligerent states.
According to the convention, if Turkey is a party to the war or considers itself threatened by an imminent danger of war, it can close the strait to the passage of warships whether or not they have a coast on the Black Sea.
However, as Çavuşoğlu mentions, Article 19 of the Montreux Convention provides for an exception. Warships from belligerent countries may return to their home base in the Black Sea.
“Now this conflict has turned into a war, in this case, this is how we apply Montreux for the parties, Russia or Ukraine. Section 19 provides an exception. If the ship of the country at war returns to its port, an exception is made. We will implement all Montreux provisions with transparency.”
This means that even if Turkey bans, Russian and Ukrainian ships can return to their home base. Çavuşoğlu said that when applying the exception, countries should abuse the clause. And to add “I explain the position of Montreux and Turkey”.
More background: The Montreux Convention, signed in 1936, gives Turkey control over the passage of ships through these two key straits. In times of peace, civilian ships can pass freely, although there are some restrictions on the passage of ships not belonging to Black Sea countries.
The Black Sea countries – which together with Turkey, Russia and Ukraine – also include Bulgaria, Georgia and Romania.
Warships can navigate the strait in peacetime, but under conditions that restrict the total tonnage depending on whether or not they are a Black Sea country and limit the length of stay in the Black Sea for non-Black Sea countries. members of the Black Sea. There are also limitations on the caliber of weapons they can carry, and Turkey must be notified of the request.