Turkish President Erdogan says that resumption of death penalty could be up for next referendum
After claiming victory in a referendum that greatly expands his powers, the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan has strongly hinted that the time has come for Turkey to consider reinstating the death penalty.
Erdogan used his victory speech on Sunday night to reveal that he will immediately discuss bringing back the capital punishment with Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and the leader of the nationalist opposition.
The move could bring an ultimate end to Turkeys long stalled efforts to join European Union. Accession negotiations have been sluggish for decades and were temporarily suspended in November 2016, with the EU citing Ankara’s “disproportionate crackdown following last years failed coup.
European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said a return of the death penalty would be a “red line in Turkey’s EU membership bid. “If the death penalty is reintroduced in Turkey, that would lead to the end of negotiations, he told Germany’s Bild newspaper in March.
Members of the European Parliament has said that the re-introduction of the capital punishment in Turkey would lead to a formal suspension of the accession process.
The unequivocal rejection of the death penalty is an essential element of the Union acquis, they said.
In the run up to Sunday’s vote, Erdogan suggested that Turkey may reevaluate its relations with the EU if the constitutional amendments passed. He said he would have more leverage when negotiating with Brussels, claiming “it will be a different Turkey then. He also suggested a Brexit-like referendum on whether the country should continue to try and join the union.
With most of the ballots counted, over 51 percent of the electorate have voted in favor of handing Erdogan greater powers. The president called the yes vote a historic decision by the Turkish people, expressing hope that it will benefit the country.
During the victory speech he also said everyone should respect the nation’s decision, and added Turkey would shift gears in the coming period.