Skip to main content

EU membership closed to Turkey if death penalty imposed: Mogherini

Turkish prime minister has promised his country would 'act within the law' in the wake of Friday's failed coup attempt
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini talks to media as she arrives for a EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting (AFP)

Turkey would be barred from joining the European Union if it reinstates the death penalty following last week's failed military coup, EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogeherini said on Monday.

"Let me be very clear... no country can become an EU state if it introduces the death penalty," Mogherini said when asked about the possible impact on long-stalled accession talks with Ankara.

Her comments come after the detention of 7,500 people, including senior military figures, judges and soldiers, in connection with the coup attempt on Friday which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed on his rival, US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Also on Monday:

  • special Istanbul anti-terror police units raided the prestigious air force military academy in the city in search of new suspects, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported 
  • 7,850 police officers have also been fired, Turkish daily Hurriyet reported 
  • Saudi authorities also reportedly detained the Turkish military attache to Kuwait, who was attempting to fly from the eastern Saudi city of Dammam to Germany, for his suspected involvement in the coup. 

Erdogan faced down the coup bid late on Friday by elements in the military disgruntled with his 13-year rule. On Sunday, he suggested that, based on public demand, it would be necessary to look again at the possibility of reinstating the death penalty.

But Turkey's allies have warned him against excessive retribution as the authorities round up the perpetrators.

"We are the ones saying today rule of law has to be protected in the country, there is no excuse for any steps that take the country away from that," Mogherini said as European Union foreign ministers met in Brussels.

With alarm bring expressed by Western allies over the scale of the legal crackdown, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim promised on Monday to bring plotters of a failed coup to account but "within the law".

"We will act within the law," Yildirim said in televised comments, adding "everyone needs justice".

On Monday, the EU commissioner dealing with Turkey's long-stalled bid for membership of the bloc said it appeared that the government had already prepared a list before the coup of people to be rounded up.

"I mean [that] the lists are available already after the event indicates that this was prepared and at a certain moment should be used," EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn told reporters.

EU governments roundly condemned the coup attempt, but have also expressed alarm at the crackdown in its aftermath.

Turkey's attempts to join the 28-nation EU have been hobbled in recent years by concern over Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian record on human rights and press freedom.

But the EU agreed to speed up its membership bid and give visa-free travel to Turks as part of a refugee crisis deal in which Ankara agreed to take back people landing in the Greek islands.