GeriGündem German, Spanish aid ships bound for Georgia in Turkish straits
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German, Spanish aid ships bound for Georgia in Turkish straits

German and Spanish warships carrying aid to conflict-torn Georgia entered Istanbul's Bosporus Straits on Thursday. Turkey earlier approved the transit of two U.S. navy ships to the Black Sea to transport humanitarian relief supplies. (UPDATED)

The Two U.S. Navy ships carrying humanitarian aid bound for Georgia are expected to pass through Turkey’s straits on Friday.

"Turkey has approved three ships for transit into the Black Sea to transport humanitarian relief supplies to Georgia -- that will consist of two U.S. Navy ships and a U.S. Coast Guard cutter," the U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Wood said.

The United States was also in talks with other governments in the region to facilitate movement of relief aid to Georgians ravaged by the conflict between Moscow and Tbilisi, Wood added. 

It will be the first U.S. humanitarian mission via the sea to Georgia since the conflict began, when Russia sent forces into Georgia on Aug. 8 to repel an attack on the Moscow-backed separatist region of South Ossetia that Tbilisi had started the day before.

"We are working with Turkey to facilitate the transport of humanitarian assistance in the most expeditious manner under the rules of the Montreux Convention," Wood said.

But he pointed out that no U.S. Navy hospital ships would be involved in the humanitarian mission following reported plans for two such vessels -- the Comfort and the Mercy -- to sail through Turkish waters to Georgia.

The two hospital ships tonnage exceeded the limits set by the 1936 Montreux Convention, which governs international traffic through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits. Under the Convention, the total weight of the warships that countries not bordering the Black Sea can deploy was limited to 45,000 tons.

The Turkish Straits are considered one of the most strategic waterways of the world and located within Turkey’s territorial waters. The Montreux Convention, reinstating its sovereignty over the strategic Turkish Straits, and regulating navigation through them, was signed in 1936.

Turkey was concerned that allowing U.S. hospital ships, which would breach the Montreux Convention, would water down the agreement and eventually threaten its sovereign rights in the straits.


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