Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for the return of the death penalty in front of more than one million Turks Sunday at an anti-coup rally in Istanbul.
Erdogan has detained or fired thousands of people critical of his regime since the failed coup July 15, which killed more than 270 people. The president called for “Turkish unity” and a new era for the country.
“There is now a new Turkey after July 15,” Erdogan said. “If we can further this power, this culture of rapprochement, we will all be able to leave our children a great Turkey.”
One of the changes may be the reinstatement of the death penalty, which was banned in Turkey in 1994. Such a decision would likely make it harder for the country to join the European Union, but Erdogan said he would back it if it passes the parliament.
“It is the Turkish parliament that will decide on the death penalty … I declare it in advance,” Erdogan said. “I will approve the decision made by the parliament.”
Erdogan also called for a better relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin following months of frosty relations after Turkey’s downing of a Russian war plane in November.
“This will be a historic visit, a new beginning. At the talks with my friend Vladimir [Putin], I believe, a new page in bilateral relations will be opened,” Erdogan said. “Our countries have a lot to do together.”
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