Stick to demo­cratic val­ues to join EU: Juncker tells Turkey

Muscat Daily - - REGION -

Frank­furt am Main, Ger­many - Euro­pean Com­mis­sion chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Sun­day urged Turkey to uphold demo­cratic val­ues if it hopes to join the Euro­pean Union, af­ter a year of purges fol­low­ing a coup bid.

Juncker’s com­ments came a day af­ter Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cept Tayyip Er­do­gan gave a hard­line speech to par­lia­ment on the an­niver­sary of the at­tempted coup, fol­low­ing mass ral­lies in Ankara and Is­tan­bul.

‘Who­ever wants to join the Euro­pean Union is join­ing a union of val­ues,’ Juncker wrote in an op-ed for Ger­man weekly Bild Son­ntag.

‘Europe’s hand re­mains out­stretched,’ he added, but it ex­pects that ‘Turkey too should clearly show its Euro­pean colours and em­phat­i­cally take ba­sic Euro­pean val­ues to heart.’

In his speech, Er­do­gan vowed to sign any bill law­mak­ers pass on rein­tro­duc­ing the death penalty - seen as a red line that would shut down Turkey’s hopes of join­ing the EU.

“We will chop off the heads of those traitors,” he told a crowd of hun­dreds of thou­sands in Is­tan­bul.

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is in charge of ac­ces­sion ne­go­ti­a­tions for prospec­tive new mem­bers, with Turkey’s dossier largely frozen since last July’s vi­o­lence.

In his ar­ti­cle, Juncker warned in par­tic­u­lar against the de­ten­tion with­out trial of jour­nal­ists in­clud­ing Deniz Yu­cel of Ger­man daily Die Welt.

This was ‘in no way com­pat­i­ble with a union of hu­man rights, press free­dom and the rule of law’, he wrote.

Fol­low­ing last year’s coup bid, Er­do­gan em­barked on the big­gest purge in Turkey’s his­tory, ar­rest­ing 50,000 peo­ple and sack­ing al­most three times as many. He also shored up his po­si­tion by win­ning a ref­er­en­dum on en­hanc­ing his pow­ers ear­lier this year.

Turkey on Sat­ur­day marked one year since the de­feat of the failed coup bid with mass na­tion­wide ral­lies seek­ing to show­case na­tional unity and a stern warn- ing by Er­do­gan to traitors.

The au­thor­i­ties de­clared July 15 an an­nual na­tional hol­i­day of ‘democ­racy and unity’, billing the foil­ing of the putsch as a his­toric vic­tory of Turk­ish democ­racy.

In an in­tense pro­gramme aim­ing to ham­mer home the an­niver­sary’s im­por­tance, Er­do­gan at­tended a spe­cial ses­sion of par­lia­ment in Ankara, spoke to a mass rally in Is­tan­bul and then flew back to the cap­i­tal for a rally out­side par­lia­ment and a spe­cial event at the pres­i­den­tial palace in the early hours of the morn­ing.

Speak­ing to hun­dreds of thou­sands by the bridge across the Bospho­rus in Is­tan­bul that was a fight­ing flash­point, Er­do­gan warned Turkey could rein­tro­duce cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment.

Any move to re­store cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment - which Turkey abol­ished in 2004 - would ef­fec­tively end Ankara’s Euro­pean Union mem­ber­ship am­bi­tions.

Er­do­gan also said the sus­pects be­ing tried over the failed coup should wear uni­form cloth­ing like the no­to­ri­ous orange jump­suits used at US mil­i­tary prison at Guan­tanamo Bay.

“When they ap­pear in court, let’s make them ap­pear in uni­form suits like in Guan­tanamo,” Er­do­gan said to cheers.

Sup­port­ers chanted ‘we are sol­diers of Tayyip (Er­do­gan)’, with some even bran­dish­ing nooses in a sym­bol of their sup­port for the death penalty.

In the later speech to thou­sands out­side par­lia­ment in Ankara which was bombed by war­planes that night, Er­do­gan de­claimed ‘our na­tion showed the whole world what a na­tion we are on July 15’.

The crowds later made their way to the palace where dozens had camped out­side for the fi­nal of­fi­cial event dur­ing which Er­do­gan in­au­gu­rated a mon­u­ment to the vic­tims which has peo­ple hold up the cres­cent and star sym­bols of the Turk­ish flag.

(AFP)

Peo­ple at­tend the open­ing cer­e­mony of the ‘July 15 Mar­tyrs’ Mon­u­ment’ at the Pres­i­den­tial Com­plex to mark the foiled coup’s first an­niver­sary in the Turk­ish cap­i­tal Ankara, on Sun­day

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