Status quo in Black Sea is of vital importance: Defense minister

Maintaining the status quo in the Black Sea provided by the Montreux Convention is of vital importance, Turkey's defense minister has said, calling on Ukraine and Russia to de-escalate tension and resolve problems through dialogue.

"There is balance, stability and security in the Black Sea thanks to this status quo. We have explained and continue to explain on every occasion that this is of vital importance," Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told journalists in Brussels following two-day long NATO ministerial meetings on Feb. 18.

The defense ministers met amid an ongoing tension between the West and Russia over the latter's extensive military deployment on Ukraine's borders, causing concerns that an imminent Russian invasion against its neighbor could happen, just like it did in Crimea in 2014.

"There is a concern in us, in other relevant countries and in NATO countries. We follow developments closely with this concern. It is our common wish to maintain diplomacy and dialogue and reach a solution in this way," Akar said, adding that the territorial integrity of Ukraine and Georgia is important for Turkey.

Turkey has always expressed its opposition against the Russian invasion of Crimea and its support to Ukraine's territorial integrity, the minister said.

"We are in favor of solving the tension in the region with a balanced approach and in common sense, and in this sense, it is our sincere wish that the countries bordering the Black Sea can live in peace, dialogue, tranquility and prosperity," he added.

According to the 1936-dated Montreux Convention, merchant vessels enjoy freedom of passage through the Turkish Straits, the Dardanelles and Bosphorus, while the passages of vessels of war are subject to some restrictions...

Continue reading on: