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".

 

Saudi, allies unveil Qatar 'terrorist' blacklist

Israel dismantles metal detectors from holy site

Trump says Syrian rebel aid program was 'dangerous and wasteful'

Iran gets more involved in Iraq militarily

600,000 Yemenis expected to contract cholera in 2017

14 Saudis face ‘imminent’ unfair execution says Amnesty

Rival Libyan leaders hold talks in France

Amnesty International urges EU to 'reset' Turkey relations

Erdogan urges Muslims to ‘protect’ Jerusalem

US sanctions protecting Iranian tech sector

Where Afghanistan is heading and what it means for the Arab Gulf

Air strike kills civilians in Syria despite truce

278 Europe-bound migrants rescued off Libya

Beirut, the upcoming start-up hub in MENA region

Cardinal hails 'rebirth' of Iraqi Christian town

Top UN delegation visits crisis-hit Yemen

Trump aide due in Israel to ease holy site tensions

Libya’s coastguard rescues 150 Europe-bound migrants

EU warns Turkey economy at risk in Germany row

Saudi crown prince takes temporary charge

Israel strikes Gaza after missile across border

Hezbollah says fight on Syria border ‘nearing end’

Staff of Turkey opposition paper stand trial

Tehran’s judiciary chief accuses US of jailing innocent Iranians

Palestinian arrested after attack in Tel Aviv

Maghreb future is tied to resolving Western Sahara conflict

MENA countries particularly vulnerable to climate change

UN-backed Libya PM to meet eastern strongman near Paris

Saudi Arabia and allies insist demands non-negotiable as GCC crisis continues

Netanyahu faces mounting pressure over holy site

Two Jordanians killed at Israeli embassy in Amman

Erdogan holds talks with Gulf leaders on Qatar crisis

Arab League accuses Israel of 'playing with fire' at holy site

Erdogan seeks to defuse standoff around Turkey’s Qatar

Syria warplanes strike near Damascus despite ceasefire

US warns Iran over imprisoned Americans

Kuwait protests to Lebanon over Hezbollah training

30 extremists in Sinai operations

Three Palestinians shot dead in Jerusalem

Nearly 360 injured in Turkey by magnitude 6.7 quake

UN says Saudi to blame for deadly Yemen strike on civilians

Police fire tear gas to disperse Morocco protest

Germany reviews arms sales to Turkey

Hezbollah launches Syria border operation

China calls for Gulf crisis talks