GeriGündem Oktay Eksi: United States scratches the Montreux Convention itch
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Oktay Eksi: United States scratches the Montreux Convention itch

The United States has, for the present time, shelved plans to send to hospital warships, weighing a total of 140,000 tons, carrying “aid” to Georgia after it was revealed that the move did not comply with the 1936 Montreux Convention.

But for how long?


The Montreux Convention limits the total weight of a single warship that countries not bordering the Black Sea can deploy to 15,000 tons. Country’s bound by the agreement can deploy warships totaling a maximum of 45,000 tons.

Where as the United States had hoped to deploy two hospital warships each weighing 70,000 tons.


But when Ankara showed that it was insistent on enforcing the criteria set out by the Montreux Convention, it was agreed that this task be undertaken by ships that abided by the agreement.

However, the question of whether it is more valid to change the Montreux Convention or protect it has been raised once again.  


The reason for voicing this again is this:


The issue has been debated time and time again. In fact the agreement was expected to remain in force for 20 years, until 1956. And unless one of the signatories; Turkey, Bulgaria, France, England, Greece, Japan, Romania, the U.S.S.R. (Russia) and Yugoslavia, asks for the cancellation of the agreement before 1954, the agreement would continue to remain in force.

The signatory countries calling for amendments to the convention have the right to do so, once every five years.


Many have said “let’s change the agreement” to suit their own agenda. For example, the first such call was made by Joseph Stalin in 1946. He put forward the baseless argument that claimed,“During World War Two Turkey had granted permission to a number of German and Italian warships, posing as trade ships, to pass through the straits to the Black Sea.” However, when the United States and England sided with Turkey during the Cold War and agreed “not to amend Montreux”, Stalin gave up on his demands for the changes and to aquire lands from Turkey.


Calls to amend the Montreux Convention surfaced for various reasons in recent years. However, none has put forward a proposal superior to the current agreement; this is the reason the Montreux Convention has remained in force, past legal expiration date.


Now we are seeing signs from the United States that it is not comfortable with the Montreux Convention. For example, the United States tried to test the convention when it got the notion to attack Iraq in 2003.

Thankfully this project failed when the infamous granting of permission, which foresees Turkey supporting the U.S. Iraqi operation, was rejected by the Turkish parliament.


In all honesty, from Trabzon and Samsun in Turkey would you go to Iraq or would you go to Iran and other countries in the Caucasus?

Isn’t this example enough to show what reckoning lies behind scratching the Montruex itch?



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