https://ahvalnews.com/-If Turkey legally acknowledges the situation in Ukraine constitutes a state of war, then it will shut its two straits to warships under the terms of the Montreaux Convention, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said.
But even if Turkey does close the straits, Russia still has the right to use them, Çavuşoğlu told Hürriyet newspaper columnist Fatih Çekirge on Friday.
“If there is a demand for the ships of the warring countries to return to their bases, then it must be allowed, according to the convention,” Çavuşoğlu said.
Following the launch of a Russian military operation against Ukraine on Thursday, Kyiv, which views the presence of Russian warships in the Black Sea as a threat, made an official request to Turkey to close its Çanakkale (Dardanelles) and Istanbul (Bosphorus) Straits, to Russian warships.
Kyiv also asked Turkey to close its airspace to Russia, Vasyl Bodnar, Ukraine’s ambassador to Ankara, said.
The provisions of the Montreux Convention are very clear and precise, and until today, Turkey has implemented the treaty without hesitation, Çavuşoğlu said.
Turkey can stop the passage of warships through the straits in a state of war.
“Our experts are working on the situation (to determine) if there is a state of war,” Çavuşoğlu said.
Six Russian warships and a submarine passed through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits on Feb. 8, Tass reported at the time, for naval drills near Ukraine.
Turkey has control over which military vessels are allowed passage through its straits in wartime, under the 1936 treaty.
“We are against the annexation or a war,” Çavuşoğlu said, reiterating Turkey’s support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
“We will continue to maintain our principled stance that is balanced but in favour of fairness and international law. We will do our best to end this military operation as soon as possible,” he added.
Çavuşoğlu also said on Thursday that Turkey had finalised all preparations to evacuate its citizens from Ukraine, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
“We have been working on the evacuations of our citizens from the very beginning,” he said. “We are ready, but the airspace is currently closed.”
“Marine traffic is also closed at the moment,” he said, adding that Turkey can evacuate citizens by sea when it reopens.
That leaves the option of evacuating Turkish nationals overland.
“When the situation calms down, we will be able to take our citizens to Moldova, Romania and Poland by land,” he said, adding that agreements have been made with bus companies in Ukraine for this contingency.