A defiant President Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday stepped up his attack on the European Union, saying Turkey had to go its own way and vowing to bring back the death penalty if parliament passes it.
Erdogan, who was at the opening ceremony for a memorial dedicated to the roughly 250 people who died during last year’s failed coup, accused Brussels of “messing about” with Turkey’s decades-long bid to join the bloc.
The speech, in front of the presidential palace in Ankara in the early hours of Sunday, wound up a marathon session of public appearances by Erdogan in both the capital and Istanbul to mark the anniversary of last year’s failed coup.
“The stance of the European Union is clear to see… 54 years have passed and 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, reports Reuters.
“We will sort things out for ourselves, there’s no other option.”
Ties with Europe were strained after the coup, given the West’s alarm about the scale of the government crackdown that followed. Some 150,000 people have been sacked or suspended from their jobs and more than 50,000 detained on suspicion of links to the U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for the attempted putsch.
He also said he would approve, “without hesitation” the death penalty, if parliament voted to bring it back — a move that would effectively end Turkey’s bid to join the European Union.
“I don’t look at what Hans and George say. I look at what Ahmet, Mehmet, Hasan, Huseyin, Ayse, Fatma and Hatice say,” he said, to cheers from a flag-waving crowd.