President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday said he would immediately discuss reinstating the death penalty with the government and the opposition.
“I will immediately discuss this issue with Mr. Prime Minister [Binali Yıldırım] and [Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader] Mr. [Devlet] Bahçeli,” said Erdoğan while addressing a crowd celebrating the results of a Sunday referendum in front of Huber Palace in the Sarıyer district of İstanbul.
“I will say ‘I have always encountered this in the field.’ Mr. Bahçeli already said, ‘I will support it’ and Mr. Yıldırım likewise. But [Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal ] Kılıçdaroğlu also said he would support it. If he really supports it and it comes to me, I will approve it. Otherwise what will we do? We will have another referendum on that, too,” Erdoğan added.
The issue of reinstating capital punishment in Turkey has strained ties with the European Union after Erdoğan and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) suggested its reintroduction following a failed coup attempt last summer.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on March 19 that reinstatement of capital punishment in Turkey would “lead to the end of negotiations” with Ankara for its membership in the EU.
“Executing the death penalty is incompatible with membership of the Council of Europe,” said Daniel Holtgen, director of communications at the Council of Europe and spokesperson for Secretary-General Thorbjørn Jagland, in reaction to the Turkish government plan to introduce the death penalty.
Responding to criticism from the EU, Erdoğan said during a rally in Antalya on March 25: “They say that if the death penalty is reinstated, Turkey will not have a place in Europe. We do not need that place.”
Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004 as a part of reforms to facilitate Turkey’s accession to the European Union, although the death penalty has not been used since 1984.