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 by 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 part of the war or considers itself threatened with an imminent danger of war, it can close the strait to the passage of warships which have or do not 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 not abuse the clause, and added, “I explain the position of Montreux and Turkey.”
More background: The Montreux Convention gives Turkey control over the passage of ships through these two key straits.
In times of peace and in times of war, Turkey has no right to restrict civilian ships even if Turkey is part of the war.
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.
The Black Sea countries include Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine.
There are also limitations on the caliber of weapons they can carry, and Turkey must be notified of the request.
Correction: An earlier version of this post misinterpreted the Turkish Foreign Minister’s comments on the application of the Montreux Convention exception.