President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s remarks about reinstating capital punishment following the approval of constitutional amendments in the April 16 referendum has gathered warnings from European allies.
Erdogan said during his arrival to Ankara from Istanbul on April 17 that he would approve the return of the death penalty if the parliament passes such a law to pay respect “to our martyrs.”
“If [a bill] comes before me, I will approve it. But if there isn’t support [from opposition MPs], then we could have another referendum for that,” Erdogan said late on April 16 to a crowd in Istanbul, which was chanting for its reintroduction.
A referendum on restoring the death penalty in Turkey would constitute a break from European values, the French president’s office warned on Monday.
France said that organising a referendum on the death penalty would “obviously be a break with values and engagements” that was accepted by Turkey when it first joined Europe’s main watchdog, the Council of Europe, the presidency said.
The French presidency said it “took note” of the figures and the “disputes” surrounding them, saying they showed “that Turkish society is divided over the proposed deep reforms.”
In a separate statement, France’s foreign ministry called on the Turkish government to respect the European Convention on Human Rights and its ban on the death penalty.
Although the death penalty had not been in effect since 1984, Turkey abolished the capital punishment in 2004 as a part of reforms to ease Turkey’s accession into the European Union.
European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said in March that any return of the death penalty in Turkey would be a “red line” in the country’s stalled EU membership bid.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, meanwhile, said on Monday that Turkish authorities needed to address concerns about the content and procedure of the referendum raised by a panel of European legal experts.
“The German government respects the right of Turkish citizens to decide on their own constitutional order,” they said in a statement.