[VIDEO] Erdoğan reiterates will approve death penalty once passed by Parliament

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan greets citizens during a mass opening ceremony in Isparta, Turkey on August 12, 2017. AFP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said once again on Saturday that he will immediately approve a bill reinstating capital punishment in Turkey once it is passed by Parliament.

Speaking at an inauguration ceremony organized by the Isparta Governor’s Office on Saturday, Erdoğan underlined that the issue has repeatedly been brought to the attention of the government by the public and reiterated that he would approve the legislation once it is passed by Parliament despite criticism from the Western world.

After the crowd starting chanting slogans such as “We demand the death penalty!” Erdoğan said: “When this issue [of reinstating the death penalty] comes to Parliament, I believe it will be passed. Then it will come to me and I will approve it without paying attention to who says what. What will God say? I will look at that.”

The issue of reinstating capital punishment in Turkey 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.

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