‘Without any hesitation’: Erdogan vows to reinstate death penalty

‘Without any hesitation’: Erdogan vows to reinstate death penalty
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he would approve the reinstatement of capital punishment in Turkey “without any hesitation” as he drummed up support for the upcoming constitutional referendum.

“I believe, God willing, that after the April 16 vote, the parliament will do the necessary thing concerning your demands for capital punishment. As for me, I will approve it without any hesitation,” he said at a Martyrs’ Memorial Day rally, commemorating the Ottoman Empire’s victory in the battle of Gallipoli in 1915.

Erdogan went on to imply that the death penalty could then be applied to the coup plotters, who tried to overthrow the Turkish government on July 15, 2016.

“Who opened fire on their brothers in arms that night? Who attacked their own people with tanks and artillery, bombed the parliament, the presidential complex, and headquarters of the Special Forces? They are all busted. Our people should be at ease. Those murderers and their supporters will get the penalty they deserve,” he said during the rally.

He went on to praise the actions of the Turkish people during the coup attempt, noting, that “thanks to the support of our people, we were able to push back the attempt and get rid of the putschists,” the Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency reports.

The president also rallied support for the proposed constitutional changes. He said the amendment would ensure that the Turkish political system would remain stable and secure, and be similar to the presidential systems of the “world’s strongest nations.”

“If we aim to be among the top 10 economies [by 2023], we need a system through which we can compete with these countries,” he said, as cited by Anadolu.

He once again stated that Ankara will respond appropriately to the actions of the Netherlands other European countries which banned Turkish officials from attending rallies in support of the upcoming constitutional referendum.

“This [actions] have no place in international law,” he said.

“If you’ll continue like this, you’ll have the necessary response from Turkey,” the president warned the western nations.

Pro-referendum rallies, which were also canceled in Germany, Austria and Switzerland provoked an angry reaction in Turkey, who accused the EU of “selective democracy and xenophobia.” Turkish officials charged that the actions of Germany and the Netherlands were comparable to Nazi policies.

While pointing to the need for further cooperation with Ankara, some European officials described the Turkish rhetoric as inappropriate.

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US landing ship with marines enters Black Sea for drills with Romanian navy

US landing ship with marines enters Black Sea for drills with Romanian navy
An American landing ship, the USS Carter Hall, with marines on board, has crossed the Bosporus Strait and arrived in the Black Sea on Friday for joint drills with the Romanian Navy.

“The amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) and embarked Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, arrived in the Black Sea March 17, to participate in bilateral training exercise Spring Storm 17 with Romania,” the US 6th fleet said in a statement.

According to the release, the vessel “will work alongside Romanian maritime forces to develop interoperability and proficiency.”

The Spring Storm exercises will take place not far from the Romanian port of Constanta between March 18 and 21.

“The Spring Storm exercise provides Carter Hall a valuable opportunity to operate forward with our NATO ally in the Black Sea region (Romania). We are looking forward to increasing our mutual cooperation to enhance security throughout 6th Fleet,” Timothy Carter, USS Carter Hall commanding officer, said of the war games.

The 6th fleet is the US Navy’s command for Europe and Africa headquartered in Naples, Italy.

The exercise, involving Romanian Navy and Air Force, will bring together a total of 1,200 American and Romanian soldiers, Sociedad Rumana de Radiodifusion reported. The war games will focus on working out cooperation in protecting the Romanian coastline and cities in the area, it added.

Carter Hall (LSD-50) has a crew of 400 and can carry up to 500 marines, who are delivered ashore via small landing craft and helicopters.

Earlier this week, four NATO warships sailed into the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Odessa. Troops from Poland, Spain, Germany and Turkey are to conduct drills and boost ties with their Ukrainian counterparts until April 20.

In mid-February, NATO already held PASSEX 2017 drills in the Black Sea, with Canada, Spain, Romania, and Bulgaria participating. The exercises featured “tactical maneuvering, air defense, repelling asymmetric attacks from an enemy above water, delivery of cargo by helicopter, and other maneuvers.”

Also in February, the eastern parts of Black Sea witnessed Romania-led multinational drills labeled Sea Shield, which involved 16 warships and 10 warplanes aimed at distracting the perceived ‘Russian threat.’

Commenting on the February military exercises by NATO, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said Moscow was “watching and monitoring everything that is happening” during the war games.

‘READ MORE: ‘Vicious circle’: Moscow warns NATO Black Sea buildup & increased spending may lead to new Cold War

The same month, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused NATO of meddling in Russian affairs and trying to provoke a conflict, and warned that NATO’s military maneuvers posed a threat to global security under its “newly-declared official mission to deter Russia.”

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Lesbos activists, migrants march against EU-Turkey asylum deal & deportations (VIDEO)

Lesbos activists, migrants march against EU-Turkey asylum deal & deportations (VIDEO)
Hundreds of local activists on the Greek island of Lesbos have taken part in a pro-refugee demonstration, calling on Athens and Brussels to scrap the deal with Turkey, stop deportations, and allow migrants into the country.

Waters off the Greek island of Lesbos are notorious for human tragedy, as hundreds have drowned struggling to reach Europe. To honor those who died and to protest against the living conditions for those being cared for on the island, hundreds of locals and refugees marched in Mytilene on Saturday.

Protesting against the EU-Turkey refugee agreement, the protesters marched with banners and flags chanting “freedom,” demanding the closure of the Moria detention facility.

The Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos is one of the country’s biggest centers for refugees. Ever since the EU and Turkey deal, refugees arriving on the Greek islands are immediately detained. Once on Greek EU shores, those who survived the journey from Turkey enter a lengthy asylum process. Most do not qualify and are deported back to Turkey. The deal, which came into effect in March, has turned Lesbos into an open-air prison, with thousands of refugees stranded on the island and living in facilities that are suited for roughly 3,500.

In a peaceful demonstration with slogans for open borders and ending deportations, locals entertained the marchers with music from their homelands as demonstrators marched in the vicinity of Mytilene market and the waterfront. Once the procession of around 500 people arrived at Sappho square, activists cooked and offered food to refugees and migrants.

The EU-Turkey refugee deal was signed one year ago. Under the agreement, Greece is allowed to return all “irregular” migrants to Turkey and in return, EU member states are to orderly resettle more of the Syrian refugees living in Turkey.

In return for their care for the roughly three million Syrian refugees, the EU promised to accelerate Turkey’s EU membership negotiations. Brussels has also promised visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area.

While the deal includes a €6 billion ($6.8 billion) aid package for Turkey, it has so far received only €677 million.

Dissatisfied with the pace of the refugee deal implementation, Ankara has repeatedly threatened to scrap it and unleash a flood of migrants into Europe unless Brussels honors its end of the bargain. Just this week, Turkey’s interior minister said his country could send 15,000 refugees a month to Europe, to “blow its mind.”

READ MORE: Turkey further away from EU accession ‘than ever before’ – German FM

“I’m telling you, Europe, do you have that courage? If you want, we could open the way for 15,000 refugees that we don’t send each month and blow your mind,” Süleyman Soylu said late Thursday, according to Hurriyet Daily.

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