Binali Yildirim spoke following comments by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in which he warned the reintroduction of the death penalty by Turkey would end the country’s bid to join the EU. Turks have called for the penalty to be reinstated following the failed coup.
“He should make more careful statements,” Yildirim said in an interview with British broadcaster Sky News in Ankara. “While Turkey is fighting with such a threat, the fact that they keep up their finger and threaten Turkey is not up to them.”
The prime minister, who took office in May, warned of additional arrests as those behind the failed coup are hunted down.
“There are arrests and detentions and the process has not been completed yet,” he said. Around 13,000 military, police, judiciary and civil servants have been arrested since July 15 and tens of thousands more removed from their posts.
Yildirim blamed the coup on “terrorists in soldier uniforms within the Turkish military” and also addressed whether the U.S had prior knowledge of the coup attempt. He said it was not “a credible rumor”.
Earlier, Yildirim told The Guardian newspaper there was no doubt Fetullah Gulen played a direct role in the coup attempt.
In an apparent contradiction of previous government statements that Turkey had submitted an extradition request to the U.S. for the Pennsylvania-based preacher, Yildirim said Turkey was still preparing a formal request.
He told the British newspaper that officials were preparing files on his supporters’ involvement in the coup attempt that would be submitted to Washington.
Turkey has accused Gulen of masterminding the coup attempt and regards him as the head of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization.
Yildirim said the U.S. was not involved in the attempt to topple the Turkish government but added: “Of course, since the leader of this terrorist organization is residing in the United States there are question marks in the minds of the people whether there is any U.S. involvement or backing.
“So America from this point on should really think how they will continue to cooperate with Turkey, which is a strategic ally for them in the region and world.”
Yilidirm pointed to claims by those arrested in Turkey in the aftermath of the failed plot that Gulen was involved, repeating that the Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, who was taken hostage during the coup attempt, was offered the chance to speak to Gulen by telephone “so he can also join their movement”.
Asked if closer ties between Turkey and Russia would be expected in future, Yildirim said definitely. "More ties will be developed. Turkey and Russia are neighbors and share the Black Sea. We also share common interests and a common future in the region."