Will Turkey reintroduce the death penalty?

Turkey's head of state Recep Tayyip Erdoğan plans to have the parliament vote on the reintroduction of the death penalty. He said on Saturday that he was confident that the MPs would vote in favour of a law to this effect and announced that he would ratify it. Most commentators are harshly critical of the plan, but there are also those who claim this step is indispensable.

Open/close all quotes
Karar (TR) /

Turkey has no other option

After the traumatic experience of the attempted coup on July 15 the reintroduction of the death penalty is unfortunately pretty much inevitable, columnist Mehmet Ocaktan explains in the conservative paper Karar:

“The betrayal of July 15 triggered a dreadful wave of anger against the insurgents in society. It is not easy to appease this anger. We shouldn't forget that the government can't do anything that undermines the people's will. So the government is now taking steps to fulfil the people's demands. … I would like to address the government and tell it that reintroducing the death penalty could put Turkey in a difficult position internationally and that it should rethink its stance here. But I can't say that because I can't forget what happened on the night of July 15, and I am sure that the nation can't forget it either.”

Pravda (SK) /

Erdoğan doesn't care about EU accession

Erdoğan's recent speeches about the death penalty show that he is no longer serious about EU membership for Turkey, Pravda comments:

“Joining the EU has long since ceased to be one of Erdoğan's ambitions. Otherwise he wouldn't have started talking about the death penalty, which is absolutely taboo for Brussels. The Turkish president is leading his country into dictatorship. This is why he refuses to be guided by the human rights standards that apply on the Old Continent. His goal is to revive the Ottoman Empire, and he is starting to put this plan into practice. With his country this modern sultan wants to become the ruler of the region; he wants to wrestle with Iran for dominance over the Islamic world. He doesn't need the EU for that.”

Hürriyet (TR) /

Fatal for Turkey politically

The reintroduction of the death penalty could have disastrous repercussions for Turkey, Hürriyet believes:

“Perhaps this rhetoric is only a tactic by Erdoğan to attract nationalist votes in order to guarantee victory in a possible presidential referendum. Even so, it would be a bad mistake for Turkey. Not only would it add to the current tension, which is already high due to the rise in terrorist attacks and the neighboring wars in Syria and Iraq, it would also further distance Turkey from the democratic world. ... There is no country within the EU that still has the death penalty, as it is one of the basic points in the EU’s Copenhagen criteria for membership. ... So bringing back the death penalty is certainly not a good idea for Turkey. It will be a further big mistake to downgrade the quality of democracy in Turkey, which is already suffering problems.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

The end of the accession talks

The death penalty was abolished in Turkey in 2004 before the start of the accession negotiations. With his current initiative Erdoğan is bidding farewell to Europe for good, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung criticises:

“A nation's attitude to capital punishment says much about the values it respects. ... In stating twelve years on that he would sign a law on the reintroduction of the death penalty, Erdoğan is once again sending an unmistakeable signal to the EU - namely that Turkey is taking a different path and no longer sees itself as part of the European community of values. If the parliament passed such a law, Turkey would lose its membership in the Council of Europe and the EU membership negotiations would become obsolete. Turkey is drifting away from Europe. Instead of joining forces with the European democracies, Erdoğan is aligning himself with autocrats such as the ruler in the Kremlin.”