Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament, on Monday expressed deep concerns about Turkey’s possible plans to hold a public referendum on the reinstatement of the death penalty, saying that such a move would be a red line for the EU.
After claiming victory in a referendum that greatly expanded his powers, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday strongly hinted that the time has come for Turkey to consider reinstating the death penalty.
Erdoğan used his victory speech on Sunday night to reveal that he will “immediately” discuss bringing back capital punishment with Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and the leader of the nationalist opposition.
“If it [legislation] comes to me, I will approve it,” Erdoğan said. “But if there is no support [from Parliament] … then what shall we do?”
“Then we could have another referendum for that,” he added.
“Very concerned about mention of possible referendum on death penalty in Turkey. Red line for the European Union,” wrote Tajani in a Twitter message on Monday in reaction to Erdoğan’s remarks.
Turkey has been officially negotiating as a candidate country with the EU since 2005 and abolished capital punishment in 2004 as part of EU reforms.
The debate over the death penalty re-emerged after a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
Several EU officials stated that in the event Turkey reinstates capital punishment, it would halt membership negotiations.
In another message, Tajani said he was waiting for an assessment from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights on the Turkish referendum.
“I call on Turkey as candidate country to respect rule of law and fundamental rights,” he added.