In the aftermath of the failed coup attempt by the army, Turkey announced that it is considering reintroducing capital punishment. The decision to bring back death penalty, which had been abolished in 2004, has met with sharp criticism from EU, with the Austrian Foreign Minister calling it 'unacceptable'.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday there could be no delay in using capital punishment, and the government would discuss the measure with opposition parties.
"We cannot delay this any more because in this country, those who launch a coup will have to pay the price for it,"
Turkey has ambitions to join the European Union, but a revival of the death penalty would freeze any discussion of membership. According to EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogeherini, Turkey needs to follow the 'rule of law' and maintain the integrity of democratic institutions.
Before a meeting between EU foreign ministers, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz told an Austrian newspaper:
"The introduction of the death penalty would of course be absolutely unacceptable,"
In the meeting on Monday, EU foreign ministers will urge Erdogan to respect the law and human rights in dealing with defeated coup plotters, but they have limited leverage over their strategic neighbour.
"There must be no arbitrary purges, no criminal sanctions outside the framework of the rule of law and the justice system, .-- Austria will push at the foreign ministers' meeting ...to set very clear boundaries for Erdogan."
Kurz said a deal with Turkey aimed at stemming the flow of migrants into Europe was no reason to back down.
"The migration pact cannot be a reason to deviate from our fundamental values and clear position."
Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders also expressed concerned about the recent arrests of judges, along with the possibility of a revival of capital punishment. He maintained that acting according to the rule of law and resisting from arbitrary action was a prerequisite to joining the EU.
Reynders's thoughts were echoed by that of French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault:
"We cannot accept a military dictatorship but we also have to be careful that the Turkish authorities do not put in place a political system which turns away from democracy ... The rule of law must prevail ... We need authority but we also need democracy."
(Inputs from Reuters)
(Feature Image Source: Reuters | Representational Image)