May 5, 2017 / 1:38 PM / in 6 months

Berlin would bar Turks voting in Germany on Turkish death penalty

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany said on Friday it would not allow Turks to vote on its territory in any Turkish referendum on reintroduction of the death penalty - a measure proposed by President Tayyip Erdogan after July’s failed army coup attempt.

Ankara accused Berlin of Nazi behavior in March when some German local authorities canceled events where Turkish politicians were to campaign for a referendum giving broad new powers to Erdogan. Voting was allowed at diplomatic premises, but that spat and mass arrests and dismissals in Turkey since the coup have soured relations.

“It is politically not imaginable that we would approve such a vote in Germany on a measure that goes against our Basic Law and European values,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert told a regular news conference, referring to Germany’s constitution.

Embassies and consulates enjoy certain privileges and immunities under the 1961 Vienna Convention and Turkey would very likely want to hold voting on their premises to reach some 1.5 million expatriate Turkish voters.

But Seibert said: “If another state wants to hold elections or votes in its consulates here in Germany, then this is subject to (German) authorization.”

Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004 as part of a drive for European Union membership. Erdogan has said he will approve its reinstatement if parliament submits such a proposal or if the measure is backed in a referendum.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is seeking a fourth term in a September election, has said Europe should not push Turkey away despite concerns about Erdogan’s tightening grip on power.

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said on Friday his country would bar Turks from participating in a referendum on the death penalty if Turkey decides on such a vote.

Reporting by Markus Wacket in Berlin and Francois Murphy in Vienna; Writing by Joseph Nasr

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