Montreux Convention

The Montreux Convention was signed in Montreux, Switzerland; thus, its name. The Montreux Convention has been signed by Bulgaria, France, Greece, Japan, Romania, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Türkiye and the USSR. These countries had also signed the Treaty of Lausanne in the past. Signatories whipped in on June 22, 1936; and on July 20, 1936 they signed the French version of the Montreux Convention. Yet, the convention went into effect on November 9, 1936, and its main subject was the regulation of Bosporus and Dardanelles in Türkiye. Before, as mentioned in the Treaty of Lausanne, Bosporus and Dardanelles were under the control of the International Straits Commission of the League of Nations.


Now, Türkiye has full authority to regulate Bosporus and Dardanelles, but on 1920, after The Treaty of Sevres, the regulation of Bosporus and Dardanelles had been internationalized and when the Turkish War of Independence was completed successfully, with the treaty of Lausanne (24 July 1923), the International Straits Commission started to regulate these regions. While that was not a big problem in 1923 as the governments were acting peacefully, it later became one.


When the first signals of World War II, 7th Government of İnönü, which is named after its prime minister, İsmet İnönü, wanted to get the right to regulate the Bosporus and Dardanelles to guarantee the “complete freedom of Türkiye” and to be sure that there was not a threat of war in the straits. The members of the 7th Government of İnönü started with publishing a declaration saying that they were worried about the security of the Straits. Although some countries disagreed, the Foreign Ministry of the United Kingdom declared on July 23, 1936 that they found the request of Türkiye about making necessary changes in the Treaty of Lausanne politically justified. In parallel with this declarations, at the Permanent Council of The Balkan Pact on 4 May 1936 in Belgrade, Türkiye was founded politicly justified and Signatories decided to support it. Also, during The Turkish War of Independence, Türkiye and the USSR signed a convention that requested USSR to be peaceful with Türkiye. Thus, Türkiye guaranteed the peace in Caucasia with this convention. In parallel with all of these political developments, The Montreux Convention was signed.

About two and a half years after the Montreux Convention’s entry into effect, the World War II started, but thanks to this convention, Türkiye was able to stay out of it. Therefore, we can say that the Montreux Convention is a result of the president Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s prevision and the 7th Government of İnönü’s strong-willed policy.


ARTICLES OF THE CONVENTION


When we take a closer look at the Montreux Convention, we can easily see that it has limited countries which do not have coasts in the Black Sea to pass their planes, battleships and traders and has given Türkiye the right to control their accesses. In our current world, as the Black See is the only way that Ukraine has to reach the Europe by water, the Montreux Convention was significant for the Russo-Ukrainian War. Having two important straits which potentiate the political power of Türkiye affects Türkiye’s auhtority in eaurasia. There are four important articles of the Montreux Convention. Of course, there are some different necessities for different types of vehicles. Also, the rules are not same for times of war and for times of peace. But these articles are important for the times of war.

  1. Türkiye can close the straits to warships of belligerent parties in wartime or when Türkiye itself is a party to the war or threatened by aggression from another nation.

  2. Türkiye can close the straits to merchant ships belonging to countries at war with itself.

  3. Any country with a coastline on the Black Sea – Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Russia or Ukraine – must notify Türkiye eight days in advance of its intention to send vessels of war through the straits. Other countries, the ones that don’t border the Black Sea, must give Türkiye 15 days’ advance notice. Only Black Sea nations may send submarines through the straits, only with prior notice and only if the vessels are constructed or purchased outside the Black Sea.

  4. Only nine warships are allowed to pass through the straits at any one time, and there are limits on how big the ships can be, both individually and as a group. No group of ships may exceed 15,000 metric tons. Modern warships are heavy, with frigates around 3,000 metric tons and destroyers and cruisers around 10,000 metric tons. Modern aircraft carriers are too big to go through, and aren’t allowed anyway under Turkish rules.

Considering all this information, the “complete freedom of Türkiye” has always been guaranteed by the Montreux Convention. Day by day, the importance of the convention increases, and because of that, Türkiye’s geographical location starts to be more significant . As it was seen in the World War II and the Russo-Ukrainian War, the main reason behind why Türkiye is so important in its region is that it has the right to regulate the accesses of two important straits known as the Bosporus and the Dardanelles.


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