Greece urges Turkey to show restraint on death penalty
ATHENS - ReutersTurkey should exercise restraint and avoid restoring the death penalty after the July 15 failed coup attempt, Greece's foreign minister said in remarks published on July 23.
Turkey abolished capital punishment in 2004, bolstering its long-running bid for European Union membership. But since overcoming the July 15 coup attempt, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has told crowds of supporters chanting for the death penalty that such demands may be discussed in parliament.
"The winners of the internal conflict in Turkey must show magnanimity towards the defeated, (show) self-restraint and not reinstate the death penalty," Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias told Realnews newspaper in an interview released ahead of the publication on July 24.
Kotzias said the EU hailed the defeat of the coup and wants a democratic Turkey that respects the interests and needs of all religious, social and ethnic groups. "We don't want a Turkey of revenge, of break-up and destabilisation," he told Realnews.
EU leaders including French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have said that Ankara could not reintroduce capital punishment if it wishes to join the EU one day.
But Turkey's justice minister said on July 22 that the issue of whether or not Turkey brings back the death penalty should be considered from a legal standpoint and not in terms of what the EU wants.
Asked whether Greece would return eight Turkish soldiers who fled to Greece in a military helicopter after the failed coup, Kotzias said: "This will be decided by judges and other pertinent authorities. Surely they will take into account to what extent the eight (soldiers) were part of the coup."
The men - three majors, three captains and two sergeant majors - landed in the northern Greek border city of Alexandroupolis on July 16 after issuing a distress signal. They were arrested and have sought political asylum.
Turkish authorities have branded them "traitors" and "terrorist elements" and asked Athens to extradite them. Greece has said it will examine their asylum requests quickly.
On July 21, the men were convicted of entering Greece illegally and handed a two-month suspended jail sentence. Their asylum requests are being examined and they are to appear before immigration authorities next week for further interviews.
A lawyer representing four of the men has said they fear for their lives if they are returned to Turkey.
Kotzias also said one should steer clear of making associations between people who fight for their rights in a democratic way and those who carry out coups, bomb parliaments and kill protesters.
"These people in no way deserve our solidarity. No one must forget that those behind the coup turned against the institutions of Turkish democracy."