Steps up Attack on the EU in Speech Marking Anniversary of Failed Putsch.
President Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday Defiantly Stepped Up his Attacks on the European Union, saying Turkey had to go its Own Way & Vowing to Bring Back the Death Penalty if Parliament Passed it.At the Opening Ceremony of a Memorial Dedicated to the Roughly 250 People who Died in last Year’s Failed Coup, Mr. Erdogan Accused Brussels of “Messing About” with Turkey’s Decades-Long Bid to Join the Bloc.The Speech in the Early Hours of Sunday Wound Up a Marathon Session of Public Appearances by Mr. Erdogan in Both the Capital & Istanbul Overnight to Mark the Anniversary of last Year’s Defeated Coup.
“The Stance of the European Union is clear to see, 54 Years have Passed & they are still Messing us About,” he said, Citing what he said was Brussels’ Failure to Keep Promises on everything from a Visa Deal to Aid for Syrian Migrants. “We will Sort Things Out for Ourselves. There’s no other Option.”
Ties with the West were Strained when European Governments Voiced Alarm at the Scale of the Crackdown that Followed the Coup. Some 150,000 People have been Sacked or Suspended from their Jobs & more than 50,000 Detained on Suspicion of Links with the U.S.-Based Muslim Cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara Blames for the Attempted Putsch.Mr. Erdogan also said he would Approve, “Without Hesitation” the Death Penalty, if Parliament Voted to Restore it, a Move that would Effectively End Turkey’s Bid to Join the EU. “I Don’t Look at what Hans & George say. I look at what Ahmet, Mehmet, Hasan, Huseyin, Ayse, Fatma & Hatice Say,” he said, to Cheers from a Flag-Waving Crowd.
Mr. Erdogan, the most Popular & Divisive Politician in recent Turkish History, Sees Himself as the Liberator of Pious Millions who were Deprived for Decades of their Rights & Welfare by the Secular Elite. The Coup’s Defeat has likely Ended Decades of Military Interference in Turkish Politics. But the Purges have Sharpened the Divide between Erdogan’s Supporters & Western-Facing Turks who want Closer Ties with Europe.
Critics say Mr. Erdogan is using a State of Emergency Introduced after the Coup to Target Opposition Figures, including Rights Activists, Politicians & Journalists. More than a Dozen Members of the Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), including its 2 Co-Leaders, are in Jail as well as Local Members of Rights Group Amnesty International.
The Committee to Protect Journalists Calls Turkey the World’s Biggest Jailer of Journalists, with some 160 now Detained. Leftist, Pro-Kurdish & Opposition media Outlets have also been Shut. Authorities on Saturday Detained the Editor of a Local Newspaper over a Column Criticizing the Aftermath of the Failed Coup, her Newspaper said.
In the Run-Up to the Anniversary, the Turkish media has been Saturated by Coverage from the Coup Attempt, with some Channels Showing almost Constant Footage from last Year of Young Men & Head-Scarved Mothers Facing Down Armed Soldiers & Tanks.
European Commission Chief Jean-Claude Juncker, however, said the EU Remained Committed to Dialogue with Turkey & Called On Ankara to Strengthen Democracy & the Rule of Law. He also Warned against Reinstating the Death Penalty.