A crowd of a million people participate in government rally in favor "of martyrs and democracy". The President, in favor of the death penalty, wants to "free" the nation of Gulen supporters. His address a call to Turks to love one another "in the name of Allah". Tomorrow a meeting with Putin in Moscow to strengthen bilateral relations.
Istanbul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Turkish president says he is ready to reintroduce the death penalty if the public and Parliament want it. Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed his willingness to support a return to capital punishment in at a pro-government rally yesterday on the shores of the sea of Marmara, in the European part of Istanbul, in favor "of the martyrs and democracy" that saw an estimated one million turn out. It was the latest sign of Ankara's regained strength in tech wake of the failed army coup on the night between July 15 and July 16.
Addressing demonstrators, Erdogan also promised to free the nation from supporters of the spiritual leader Fethullah Gulen, in exile in the United States, whom he claims masterminded the coup; accusations that the same Gulen has always strongly rejected in recent weeks.
Referring to the death penalty, the President stated that "sovereignty belongs to the people" and "if the people take this decision, the parties will comply" with approval in Parliament. He recalled that the United States, Japan and China apply the death penalty and also Turkey is ready to reintroduce it, despite threats of a Europe ready to close the doors of the Union to Ankara.
The demonstration in Istanbul's Yenikapi district - a million present according to initial estimates, up to five for the government - was attended by the leaders of two of the three opposition parties. Representatives of the Kurdish movement, the great enemy of Turkish President, were not invited to the event.
The theme of the reintroduction of the death penalty is one of the most debated issues in recent weeks, along with the harsh government crackdown against those suspected of having aided or flanked the coup. In less than a month thousands of public employees have been laid off, as well as thousands of soldiers and hundreds of journalists, magistrates, judges and public school principals. At least 18 thousand people so far have been detained for questioning or arrested.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim stated that "we are not acting out of revenge" but "within the rule of law." He also assured that "Gulen will be brought back to Turkey and will pay for what he did."
The "pro democracy" demonstration yesterday was supposed to represent the pinnacle of the demonstrations of national unity and strength of the government, in response to the coup attempt which killed 270 people. "We will continue on the path of solidarity" claimed Erdogan, who did not fail to nod to the Islamic wing stressing that "we will not love each other because of rank or title, but because of Allah."
Meanwhile, at odds with the European Union and the United States, the Turkish government continues the policy of rapprochement with the Kremlin, after weeks of frosty relations following the shooting down of a Russian jet on the border with Syria. Tomorrow President Erdogan will meet Vladimir Putin, to establish a new atmosphere of cooperation between the two countries.
"This will be a historic visit, a new beginning," said Erdogan in an interview with the Russian news agency Tass. "At the talks with my friend Vladimir (Putin) - he added - I think it will open a new page in bilateral relations." On the agenda of international politics, the war in Syria, the energy issue and the fight against terrorism.