Montreux Convention

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The Montreux Convention was signed in 1936 in Montreux, Switzerland. It is a treaty that gives authority of the Turkish Straits (the Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara, and the Bosporus) to Turkey. The treaty was ratified by Great Britain, Greece, Turkey, the USSR, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Yugoslavia, and Japan.


  • Any ship may transit with cargo during peacetime. During wartime ships may pass as long as Turkey does not object. Turkey reserves the right to stop ships entering straits for purposes of sanitary and health control.[1]
  • During wartime if Turkey is a belligerent, allied ships may pass. If a ship is neutral it may pass also but only during daytime if decided by the Turkish government.[1]
  • During peacetime, light warships of all powers may transit the straits after giving notice to Turkey. Turkey may waive notification if in case of warships providing humanitarian assistance.[1]
  • The convention lays out specific limits on tonnage. These preclude the transit of submarines and non-Black Sea powers through the straits.[1]
  • Foreign warships may not remain in the Black Sea for longer the 21 days.[1]


When the treaty was signed in 1936, tensions where beginning to grow between Germany and Great Britain, as well as France. England and France saw the opportunity to see where Turkey's position was. They used the convention as their first step to encourage Turkey either to involve its war fleet in war against Germany or to maintain strict neutrality in the event of conflict between the Western Allies and Germany.[2] Turkey's neutrality stood despite Germany's pressure. The USSR interest in the treaty where to limit foreign ships through the straits, while letting its own warships pass. In 1930, Turkey was asked by Stalin to share its sovereignty of the straits with the USSR, Turkey declined.[2]

United State's Dispute

The treaties first major dispute came in 2005. The United States proposed expanding NATO's mission Operation Active Endeavour to include the area of the Turkish Straits. Turkey argued that this would break the 70 year convention by having foreign ships in Turkish water for more than 29 days. The United States agreed to Turkeys argument and dropped the proposition. One Turkish official stated that, "The Americans have told us that they are now convinced by our arguments and concerns’ over the 1936 Montreux Convention, which gives Ankara control of passage through the Turkish straits. Washington's move to drop its earlier position removes this burden and has already led to an improvement in our relationship with the United States.”[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4
  2. 2.0 2.1