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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday said he expected parliament to approve restoring capital punishment after the April 16 referendum on expanding its powers. It is a move that could end Ankara’s bid to join the EU. According to AFP, Erdogan expressed this wish at a televised rally in the western city of Canakkale.

“The families of the martyrs, the heroes (of the failed July 15 coup) don’t need to worry. I believe, God willing, that after the April 16 vote parliament will do the necessary concerning your demands for capital punishment,”

Read more: Why Erdogan wears the ‘dictator’ label with pride

To become law, the bill would still need to be signed by the head of state. But Erdogan said he would sign it immediately.

EU officials have repeatedly warned Turkey that restoring capital punishment would spell the end of its over half century bid to join the bloc.

But Turkish ministers and Erdogan have said they need to respond to popular demand for the restoration of capital punishment to deal with the ringleaders of the July 15 coup bid. Erdogan, whose announcement was greeted by loud cheers, said he did not care what Europe thought about such a move.

“What Hans and George say is not important for me,” he said, using two common European names. “What the people say, what the law says, that’s what is important for us,” he added.

Read more: German Foreign Minister Says Turkey further away from EU membership than ever before

Why did Turkey abolish the death penalty?

Turkey completely abolished the death penalty in 2004 as part of its efforts to join the European Union, which has made its removal a non-negotiable pre-condition for membership. Erdogan has repeatedly warned the EU of the possibility Turkey could restore capital punishment. But this is the first time he has directly called on parliament to approve it after the referendum on constitutional change.

Turkey and Europe are locked in diplomatic crisis after Germany and the Netherlands blocked Turkish ministers from campaigning for a ‘yes’ vote in next month’s referendum.

Current relations between Turkey and its European partners are at rock bottom. With Today the German Deputy foreign minister saying that Turkey has never been so far form EU membership as it is currently.

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