TEHRAN, May 9, YJC - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Turkish citizens living in Germany will not be allowed to vote in a potential Turkish plebiscite on restoring the capital punishment in the Anatolian country, amid tensions between Berlin and Ankara.
TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -
Merkel, who was speaking to the public broadcaster WDR on Tuesday, said Berlin would not authorize Turkish consulates and embassies in the European country to be used as polling stations on reinstating in Turkey the death penalty, which is totally banned in all the European Union member states, echoing what her spokesman said a week earlier.
"We will not give permission for something we are not obligated to do, and whose content we absolutely reject, for example, the death penalty," she stated, adding, "We usually don't answer hypothetical questions, but this question is unfortunately, unfortunately not so hypothetical as it is being discussed in Turkey."
Turkey formally abolished the death penalty in 2004 as a key facilitator for its bid to join the EU. However, on March 18, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed that he would seek to reinstate the measure "without any hesitation” after the April 16 referendum on expanding presidential powers, saying the measure would be revived if parliament submitted a proposal or if the measure was backed in a referendum.
His remarks, however, drew harsh criticism from EU officials, with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker saying the next day that any return of the capital punishment in Turkey would be a "red line” in Ankara's stalled EU membership bid.
Merkel is by no means alone in rejecting Ankara's request to hold a referendum on death penalty on German soil for some 1.4 million Turkish legitimate voters, by far the largest Turkish diaspora community in the world. She received support even from Martin Schulz, the leader of the Social Democratic Party and her main challenger in September elections.
"We cannot allow voting in Germany on an instrument that contradicts our values and our constitution,” Schulz said.
Turkey has attempted to become part of the EU for decades. Formal EU accession negotiations, however, began in 2005. The process has been mired in problems, and only 16 chapters of the 35-chapter accession procedure have been opened for Ankara so far.
A month ahead of Turkey's April 16 referendum, Germany blocked campaign events by Turkish ministers, generating an unprecedented row between Ankara and Berlin. The EU also expressed its deep concern over the outcome of the plebiscite, weeks before voting.
Berlin, however, allowed the Turkish citizens in Germany to take part in the constitutional referendum, in which Erdogan's ‘Yes’ campaign won by a very low margin. Erdogan declared victory in the vote, but opponents said the referendum was deeply flawed.
Relations between Ankara and the European Union have further deteriorated following the coup attempt of mid-July 2016 against Erdogan, which Ankara claims to have been organized by US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. The EU has censured the large-scale imprisonment and dismissals of people in the wake of the failed coup.