Germany grants asylum to Turkish soldiers

Germany's Gabriel says agrees with Turkish PM on need to improve ties

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has ruled out any voting on German soil in a potential Turkish referendum on the restoration of the death penalty in Turkey. Erdogan accused Germany of acting like "Nazis" and "fascists" as several German cities banned rallies to drum up support of the plebiscite among Turks living in Germany.

Reintroducing the death penalty in Turkey would completely block the country from joining the EU, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said.

"The federal government in no way plans or discusses the issue of ousting from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation such an important partner as Turkey which has been fighting for the freedom of the West together with us for generations", Schaefer told reporters answering the question whether German authorities intend to question Turkey's membership of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in context of the recent referendum.

"I thought it was important to say that we can not give permission on German soil to a subject matter that we absolutely reject, such as the death penalty".

Even though Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004 (as part of a campaign for European Union membership), Erdogan has said he will approve its reinstatement if the measure is backed in a referendum.

Turkish President Erdogan has said he will approve the reinstatement of capital punishment if the Turkish parliament submits such a proposal or if it is approved in a referendum.

However, a wide-ranging crackdown on dissent, media freedom, and human rights under Erdogan, especially since the failed July 2016 coup attempt, seems to have effectively terminated the Turkish bid to join the European Union, at least for the time being. They declined comment on media reports that the Turks included soldiers.

The spokeswoman gave no further details.

The ministry spokesperson added that any decisions would have taken and will take into account the consequences of last year's failed coup, particularly the effects felt by the political opposition.

Polarization in Turkey over the referendum - including allegations of widespread voter fraud - has raised concern that conflicts could spill over into the 3-million strong Turkish community in Germany.

About disagreements on a number of political issues, including democracy and human rights, Schaefer said these should be discussed through bilateral dialogue between Turkey and its Western partners. Turkey is a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partner and is very important for us in matters of security.

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