Turkey cannot join the European Union if it reinstates the death penalty, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in a telephone call on Monday, a German spokeswoman said.
Turkey abolished capital punishment in 2004, allowing it to open EU accession talks the following year, but the negotiations have made scant progress since then.
With pro-government protesters demanding that the coup leaders be executed, Erdogan said on Sunday there could be no delay in using capital punishment and the government would discuss it with opposition parties.
Merkel told Erdogan on the phone that the European Union and Germany vehemently oppose the reinstatement of the death penalty and that such a step is “in no way compatible” with Ankara’s goal of EU membership, a Berlin government spokeswoman said.
“The chancellor also urged the president to abide by the principles of proportionality and rule of law in the Turkish state’s response (to the coup attempt),” she added. “The recent wave of arrests and dismissals in Turkey are a matter of grave concern.”
Merkel’s comments were echoed by Foreign Minster Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who told reporters in Brussels that Germany expected Turkey to deal with those responsible for the attempted coup in line with the rule of law.
“Reintroduction of the death penalty would prevent successful negotiations to join the EU,” Steinmeier said.
Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert told a news conference earlier on Monday that Germany and the EU categorically reject the death penalty.
“A country that has the death penalty can’t be a member of the European Union and the introduction of the death penalty in Turkey would, therefore, mean the end of accession negotiations,” Seibert said.
Even before the coup attempt, many EU states were not eager to see such a large, mostly Muslim country as a member, and were concerned that Ankara’s record on basic freedoms had gone into reverse in recent years.
Turkey widened the crackdown on suspected supporters of the coup on Sunday, taking the number of people rounded up in the armed forces and judiciary to 6,000.
Comments from European Union Commissioner Johannes Hahn that Turkey had already compiled a list of judges and others it wanted to be rounded up before a failed military coup are “unacceptable”, Turkey’s foreign minister said on Monday.
On his Twitter account, Mevlut Cavusoglu also said Turkey would never take a step back from its civil democratic achievements and rule of law.
Earlier on Monday Hahn said: “It looks at least as if something has been prepared. The lists are available, which indicates it was prepared and to be used at a certain stage.”
Such comments were “unacceptable” Cavusoglu tweeted in Turkish. In English, he added: “It seems that (Hahn) is far from thoroughly comprehending what is going on in Turkey. Our primary expectation from the EU & our allies is to support the democratic process in Turkey and strongly condemn the coup attempt.”
German officials said they had seen no evidence of any conspiracy in the events beyond an effort by parts of the Turkish military to seize control of the government.
In the meantime, two private broadcasters said on Monday that Former Turkish air force chief Akin Ozturk has not confessed to playing a role in a failed military coup that attempted to topple the government at the weekend , contradicting a state media report.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency said earlier on Monday that Ozturk had confessed to helping to plot the coup. However, Haberturk and NTV cited what they said was his testimony to prosecutors, reporting that he denied playing a role.
“I am not someone who has planned or directed the coup attempt that was carried out on July 15 and I don’t know who did,” NTV cited him as saying in his testimony.
Erdogan and the Turkish government have accused the U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former ally of Erdogan, of orchestrating the coup. The White House has indicated that if and when the U.S. receives an extradition request from Turkey for Gulen, it will be evaluated under the terms of the extradition treaty in place between the two countries.