First Published: 2017-03-19

EU chief says death penalty in Turkey 'red line'
Jean-Claude Juncker warns of 'red line' in Turkey's EU bid after Erdogan said he expected parliament to approve restoration of capital punishment.
Middle East Online

Jean-Claude Juncker

BRUSSELS - European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker warned Sunday that any return of the death penalty in Turkey would be a "red line" in the country's stalled EU membership bid.

"If the death penalty is reintroduced in Turkey, that would lead to the end of negotiations," he told Sunday's edition of Germany's Bild newspaper, calling it a "red line".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday he expected parliament to approve the restoration of capital punishment after next month's referendum on controversial consitutional changes to expand his powers.

Juncker nevertheless said he was opposed to a complete halt to all membership negotiations with Turkey.

"It makes no sense to try to calm (Erdogan's) nerves by stopping negotiations that are not even taking place."

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel went even further, saying in an interview with Der Spiegel: "We are farther away than ever from Turkey's accession to the EU."

Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004 and the EU has repeatedly made clear that any move to restore it would scupper Ankara's membership bid.

But Turkish ministers say they need to respond to popular demand for the return of capital punishment to deal with the ringleaders of the attempted coup in July.

"What Hans and George say is not important for me," Erdogan said, using two common European names. "What the people say, what the law says, that's what is important for us."

Turkey and Europe are locked in a diplomatic crisis after Germany and the Netherlands blocked Turkish ministers from campaigning for a 'yes' vote in the April 16 referendum, which opponents fear will create one-man rule.

In response, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu threatened to "blow the mind" of Europe by sending 15,000 refugees a month to EU territory, which would endanger a year-old migrant deal between Ankara and Brussels to reduce the flow of migrants.

"Turkey will not back out of the accord, even if Erdogan has told me several times he wanted to," Juncker said. Turkey has no interest in ceding "control" of its borders to "human traffickers and criminals".

 

26 killed in attack on Egypt Christians

UN says nations bombing IS must protect civilians

Qatari FM says country victim of smear campaign, particularly in US

Probe finds over 100 Mosul civilians killed in US air strike

Syria girls escape war with Snow White

At least 5 dead in Tripoli clashes

Turkey identifies 'intelligence weaknesses' before coup attempt

Tunisia opens trial over 2015 beach massacre

Syria army takes control of key road

US-led strikes kill 35 civilians in east Syria

Palestinian president says US should mediate hunger strike

Libya says working closely with Britain over concert attack

EU leaders, Erdogan meet in bid to ease tensions

Myanmar to deport Turkish family wanted for alleged coup links

Iran says it has built third underground missile factory

Trump gets rough ride in EU, NATO meeting

Saudi minister confident on oil output deal

Egyptians brace for austere Ramadan

Britain probes jihadist network amid row with US intelligence

Egypt blocks several media websites including Jazeera

IS suicide bomber kills five in Somalia

Israel uneasy over 'crazy' regional arms race

Algeria president replaces Prime Minister

16 civilians dead in coalition strikes near Raqa

4 arrested in Tunisia anti-corruption drive

German MPs call off Turkey visit as tensions fester

Palestinian hunger strike row draws solidarity, controversy

Britain raises terror alert, deploys troops after concert massacre

Qatar probes state news agency hack

At least 20 migrants killed in Mediterranean

Israeli joy at Trump visit lacks substance

Oman evacuates Australian man from Yemen

Bahrain police open fire on Shiite protest, kill five

Turkey arrests hunger strikers on terror charges

Jewish extremists ejected from Aqsa mosque compound

Prominent Egypt rights lawyer detained

Oil producers to extend output curbs at OPEC meeting

NATO aims to break Turkey-Austria partnership deadlock

Tunisia tensions simmer after protester's death

Terrorist bomb attack kills 22 at UK pop concert

Bahrain police raid Shiite sit-in killing one protester

Trump says Israelis, Palestinians ‘can make a deal’

Five dead in Syria car bomb attacks

Faz3a, a local NGO mobilising young people to help Mosul refugees

Syria civilians suffer deadliest month of US-led strikes