16:46 GMT +320 June 2018
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    A man at phone walks past a giant billboard reading Legend of July 15 for the anniversary of the last year's attempted coup in Turkey, on July 14, 2017 in Istanbul

    The President's on the Line: Turks Get Special Mobile Phone Message From Erdogan

    © AFP 2018 / OZAN KOSE
    Middle East
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    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a telephone voice message for Turks to mark the anniversary of the failed military putsch on July 15 last year.

    July 15, the date of last year's failed military putsch attempt, has been designed "Democracy and National Unity Day," by the Turkish government, which organized a series of rallies to mark the event. 

    To mark the occasion, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresed hundreds of thousands of supporters on Istanbul's Bosphorus Bridge, which has been renamed 15 July Martyrs Bridge.

    Erdogan also used mobile phones to congratulate Turks on the occasion. From Saturday evening, mobile phone users of Turkey's largest networks, Turkcell and Vodafone, were greeted with Erdogan's phone message when they tried to call another number.

    "As your President, on 15 July I congratulate you on the Day of Democracy and National Unity. May God have mercy on our martyrs. I wish our veterans health and well-being," Erdogan told listeners in the message.

    'All our people are listening to the message from our President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on July 15, Democracy and National Unity Day.'

    Omer Fatih Sayan, head of the Turkish telecommunications agency BTK, confirmed the message on Twitter.

    'Anybody who makes a phone call on the first anniversary of the putsch attempt, first has to hear a speech from Erdogan.'

    ​In his speech on Saturday evening, Erdogan was defiant of criticism from EU countries about the post-coup crackdown in Turkey, including a proposal to reinstate the death penalty for the plotters.

    "We will tear off the heads of these traitors," Erdogan told the cheering crowd, assuring them that "no traitor will go unpunished."

    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan greet their supporters as they arrive for a ceremony marking the first anniversary of the attempted coup at the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey July 15, 2017
    © REUTERS / Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Presidential Palace
    On Sunday, Erdogan addressed followers outside the parliament building in Ankara. He said that he was willing to sign into law a proposal to reinstate the death penalty, which is under consideration in the Turkish parliament.

    "When it comes to parliament — and I believe it will be passed by parliament — when it is passed by Parliament and comes to me, I will do so [sign it] without hesitation," Erdogan said. 

    "And personally, I do not pay attention to what Hans and George say. I pay attention to what Ahmet, Mehmet, Hasan, Hüseyin, Ayse, Fatma and Hatice say," he continued.

    The comments are a challenge to the EU, which has said that the death penalty is a red line that will destroy Turkey's accession chances.

    On Sunday, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker wrote in the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag that the door to the EU is always open for Ankara, unless it re-imposes the death penalty. Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004 and the last execution there was in 1984.

    "One year after the putsch attempt, Europe's hand remains outstretched," Juncker wrote in the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

    "As the EU, we are very much concerned that our neighbor is democratic, stable and economically successful … I want to Turkey to come closer to Europe rather than to move away."

    However, "If Turkey were to introduce the death penalty, the Turkish government would finally slam the door to EU membership," Juncker warned.

    On July 15, 2016, a military coup attempt took place in Turkey. Over 240 people were killed and an estimated 2,000 were wounded in its undertakings, which was suppressed the following day. Over 40,000 Turkish citizens were arrested and about 145,000 people, many among them civil servants, security personnel and academics, were fired from their positions amid ongoing investigations.


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