Swoboda: Erdogan’s comments endanger EU-Turkey negotiations

Hannes Swoboda, President of the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, expressed serious concerns about the statements of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan in favour of reinstalling death penalty.

By Roni Alasor and Lorin Sarkisian – Ararat News – 14.11.2012 – Brussels, 13 November 2012 – Ararat News (ANP) – Hannes Swoboda, President of the Socialists and Democrats (S-D Group) in the European Parliament (EP), expressed serious concerns about the statements of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan in favour of reinstalling death penalty.  

S-D Group President Hannes Swoboda pointed out: “Erdogan has to consider what he wants: closer ties with Europe or a growing radicalisation of his country; both will not go together”. The socialist President added that Erdogan’s statements “could seriously endanger the basis for negotiations” between EU and Turkey.

Swoboda underlined that: “Turkey has agreed to commitments through its membership application to the European Union. These include ensuring that human rights are respected and an orientation towards European values. If Erdogan moves away from these commitments, he will have to accept that EU candidacy for his country will be jeopardised.”

Member of European Parliament MEP Ria Oomen-Ruijten from European People’s Party (EPP), EP’s rapporteur on Turkey, also criticized Erdogan’s remarks in a statement saying that “Abolition of the death penalty is one of the key aspects of the EU Charter of Fundamental rights. The European Union can never accept the reinstatement of the death penalty in any Member State, Candidate Member State or Potential Candidate state. I expect Turkey to respect its international commitments as a member of the Council of Europe and as a signatory state to the European Convention of Human Rights”.

Hannes Swoboda’s and Ria Oomen-Ruijten’s remarks came in response to Erdogan, who recently said that Turkey may discuss reinstalling capital punishment in cases of acts of terrorism and murder.At the same time, over 9 000 Kurdish political prisoners in Turkey are continuing their hunger strike, which started on 12 September 2012 and will continue until their demands are taken into consideration.  Many do believe that Erdogan put the question of death penalty in the agenda in order to push down the Kurdish prisoners, but also to get more support from the Turkish extreme nationalists.

The President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz has written a letter to Turkey Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin expressing his concern for the critical conditions of hunger strikers in Turkish prisons. President Schulz stated: “I follow with concern the hunger strike of jailed Kurdish prisoners, among them elected officials, and of Members of Parliament in Turkey. I call on the Turkish authorities to address the concerns of the protesters. In this respect, I welcome the government’s proposed legislation amending the Code of Criminal Procedure to allow the use of mother tongue during courts proceeding. I hope this will be implemented swiftly and fully.”