Belgian PM says he won’t allow Turks in Belgium to vote in referendum on reinstating death penalty

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Belgium's Prime minister Charles Michel arrives to take part in the EU leaders summit at the Europa building, the main headquarters of European Council and the Council of the EU, in Brussels, on April 29, 2017. The 27 ?EU leaders hold a summit to adopt Brexit negotiating guidelines. EU President Donald Tusk urged the bloc to keep a united front at a special Brexit summit in Brussels, saying it will also help Britain if they can reach a deal. / AFP PHOTO / THIERRY CHARLIER

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said on Saturday that Belgians of Turkish origin will not be allowed to vote in a referendum on the reinstatement of capital punishment in Turkey.

Speaking during an interview with RTBF TV on Saturday, Michel said Belgium does not intend to allow the Turks of Belgium to participate within its borders in a referendum Turkey could hold on reinstatement of the death penalty.

I will not tolerate it! This is an unacceptable subject for me,Michel said and added that Belgium will study all legal possibilities” to prevent the holding of such a vote on Belgian soil.

In a statement on Friday, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, also said that it would not allow voting in Germany in any possible referendum on whether to reintroduce the death penalty in Turkey.

Seibert said the German government’s permission is required for voting in foreign elections or referendums to take place at embassies, consulates or elsewhere in its territory. Turkish nationals were allowed to cast votes in Germany in an April 16 Turkish constitutional referendum.

“It is politically inconceivable that we would agree to such a vote in Germany on a measure that clearly contradicts our constitution and European values. I assume that we would use all legal means to prevent something like this,” Seibert told reporters in Berlin.

Former President of the European Parliament and Chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany Martin Schulz also said in comments to Der Spiegel: “If the Turkish government really held a referendum on the introduction of the death penalty, it should be clear that such a vote must not take place among Turks living in Germany.”

“We cannot allow voting in Germany on an instrument that contradicts our values and our constitution,” he added.

After a victory in the April 16 referendum that expanded his powers and paved way for an executive presidency in Turkey, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he would immediately discuss reinstating the death penalty with the government and the opposition.

The issue of reinstating capital punishment in Turkey has strained ties with the European Union after Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) suggested its reintroduction following a failed coup 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.

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