European Parliament President Martin Schulz has expressed surprise and concern over a declaration by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that Turkey may discuss bringing back the death penalty and added that a step toward the death penalty would be a step back in every sense, including in relations between Turkey and the EU.
“I was both surprised and concerned at reading that Prime Minister Erdoğan has floated the possibility of reinstating capital punishment for some crimes. This would be a step back in every sense: It would be a step back in Turkish history, a step back in EU-Turkey relations and a step back for human rights in the country. I hope this idea will be swiftly abandoned,” read a statement sent by Schulz exclusively to Today's Zaman.
Erdoğan said publicly over the weekend that Turkey may discuss reinstating capital punishment in cases of acts of terrorism and murder.
According to Schulz, opposition to the death penalty is one of the strongest unifying values among the citizens of the European Union. “No matter how heinous a crime can be, it cannot be put right with more death,” he said, adding, “The strong stance of European citizens against the death penalty is anchored on the firm conviction that it does not provide, in any circumstance, for just punishment, deterrence or redress.”
Turkey is struggling in its bid to become a full member of the EU. It abolished the capital punishment for all circumstances in 2004 as part of this bid. Abolition of the death penalty is a pre-condition for membership in the 27-nation bloc.
Erdoğan's remarks regarding the possible reinstatement of capital punishment have drawn the ire of the EU and the European Parliament. Hannes Swoboda, head of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, offered a harsh response to the remarks, which he defined as “scandalous and provocative.” Peter Stano, a spokesperson for EU Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Füle, spoke out against the death penalty, too, saying the global abolition of capital punishment is one of the main objectives of the EU's human rights policy.