March 22, 2018

Turkish revival of death penalty would be unacceptable, Austria says

Supporters of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attend a pro-government demonstration at Taksim square in Istanbul

It would be unacceptable for Turkey to reintroduce the death penalty in response to Friday’s failed coup, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said in an interview published on Monday before a meeting with his EU counterparts.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday there could be no delay in using capital punishment, which Turkeyabolished in 2004, and the government would discuss the measure with opposition parties.

“The introduction of the death penalty would of course be absolutely unacceptable,” Kurz said in an interview with Austrian newspaper Kurier.

Turkey has ambitions to join the European Union, but a revival of the death penalty would freeze any discussion of membership.

EU foreign ministers will on Monday urge Erdogan to respect the law and human rights in dealing with defeated coup plotters, but they have limited leverage over their strategic neighbour.

“There must be no arbitrary purges, no criminal sanctions outside the framework of the rule of law and the justice system,” Kurz said. “Austria will push at the foreign ministers’ meeting …to set very clear boundaries for Erdogan.”

Kurz said a deal with Turkey aimed at stemming the flow of migrants into Europe was no reason to back down. “The migration pact cannot be a reason to deviate from our fundamental values and clear position.”

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