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    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, accompanied by his wife Emine Erdogan, addresses his supporters in Istanbul, Turkey, late April 16, 2017

    Turkey's Pledge to Reinstate Death Penalty a 'Tool to Blackmail the EU'

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    Turkey Votes for Presidential System of Government in National Referendum (72)

    After claiming victory in a referendum that greatly expands his powers, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced that the time has come for his home country to consider reinstating the death penalty. Commenting on the president's remark, political analyst Yuri Pochta told Sputnik that it might be aimed at gaining leverage over the EU.

    On Sunday, President Tayyip Erdogan declared victory in a referendum that greatly expands his powers. The Turkish leader said 25 million people had supported his proposal to replace Turkey's parliamentary system with an all-powerful presidency and abolish the office of prime minister, giving the "Yes" camp 51.5 percent of the vote.

    The Turkish president then said that the time has come for his home country to consider reinstating the death penalty. He used his victory speech on Sunday night to reveal that he will "immediately" discuss bringing back capital punishment with Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and the leader of the nationalist opposition.

    "If it [a parliament bill] comes in front of me, I will approve it," the Turkish leader said in a televised speech in Istanbul. "But if there is no support [from in parliament]… then what shall we do?"

    "Then we could have another referendum for that," Erdogan added.

    In August 2002, Ankara abolished the death penalty for peace time offences, and in July 2004, it abolished the death penalty in totality in order to meet the criteria of European Union accession.

    However after the failed coup of 2016, there were talks about restoring capital punishment.

    The move could bring the ultimate end to Turkey’s long stalled efforts to join the European Union. Accession negotiations have been sluggish for decades and were temporarily suspended in November 2016, with the EU citing Ankara's "disproportionate” crackdown following last year’s failed coup.

    European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said the return of the death penalty would be a "red line" in Turkey's EU membership bid.

    "If the death penalty is reintroduced in Turkey, that would lead to the end of negotiations," he told Germany's Bild newspaper in March.

    Radio Sputnik discussed the issue with Yuri Pochta, Professor and Head of Comparative Political Science, Chair of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Russia's Friendship University (RUDN).

    "It is one of the so-called 'small details' of Erdogan's establishment of power. He needs this leverage to frighten the remaining part of the population which is still hesitant," the political analyst told Sputnik.

    He further elaborated that while the Turkish president enjoys a massive support in his home country, however he does not control all elements of society.

    He also suggested that it will allow the Turkish leader to exert pressure on the European Union.

    "The death penalty is a tool to blackmail the European Union. Erdogan understands only too well that the move will mean a 'red line' in Turkey's EU membership bid, as European Commission Chief Jean-Claude Juncker said. However he has less and less desire to integrate into the EU as Turkey does not answer the majority of the EU's requirements for such an accession," the political analyst said.

    For example, he said, Turkey has vehemently refused to change its anti-terrorist legislature as in this case it would be unable to pursue a serious fight against the Kurds.

    Turkey Votes for Presidential System of Government in National Referendum (72)
    capital punishment, death penalty, Turkish referendum, European Union, Yuri Pochta, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Europe, Istanbul, Ankara, Turkey
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