Turkey’s negotiations to join the EU would be broken off if it reinstated the death penalty, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said.
“If Turkey were to reintroduce the death penalty, that would be tantamount to breaking off negotiations,” he told German daily ‘Bild am Sonntag’ on Sunday, referring to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s comments at a March 18 rally, where he said he would restore capital punishment.
Juncker also criticised Erdogan’s reaction to German and Dutch authorities restricting the campaigning activities of Turkish officials in their countries, Juncker said it was “totally unacceptable” for Erdogan to liken their reactions to the Nazis.
Turkey is campaigning abroad to encourage Turkish ex-patriots to vote in the April 16 for wide ranging constitutional changes which will bring in an executive presidency.
The EU Commission president said that millions of Turks living in the EU, are well-integrated and contribute to Europe’s wealth, adding that “not all Turks are little Erdogans.”
Juncker denied Europe had exposed itself to blackmail over the agreement with Turkey to send funding in return of helping stem the influx of refugees into the bloc, saying he was convinced Ankara would not reneg because “it is not in Turkey’s interests to have smuggling rings and bandits in charge along its coast.”
The agreement has led to a 97 percent reduction in arrivals of refugees into Greece from Turkey in the 11 months since it was signed, he said.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, meanwhile, said Turkey has never been less likely to join the EU than now amid an an all time low in relations between Ankara and Berlin.
“Today, Turkey is definitely further away from becoming a member of the EU than ever before,” Gabriel said in an interview with news magazine ‘Der Spiegel’ published on March 18.
He added that he always had doubts about Turkey’s accession to the EU but had found himself in the minority in his own Social Democrat (SPD) party.
Gabriel said Erdogan was “taking advantage of a sentiment many people of Turkish origin have in Germany that they are neither accepted nor welcomed.”