Turkey's FM criticizes Egypt death penalty

"The death penalty decision will not provide stability in Egypt, but cause a deeper polarization," Davutoglu says

ANKARA - Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has criticized the death penalty issued against 528 people in Egypt, saying it would cause "deeper polarization".

In a televised interview on Wednesday, Davutoglu said Turkey stood with the Egyptian people since the beginning of the unrest which followed the removal of democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

"The death penalty decision will not provide stability in Egypt, but cause a deeper polarization," Davutoglu said. "Their foreign minister said the sentence has not received its final approval, so it could be presented as forgiveness by the next president which could be [General Abdel-Fattah] Sisi, if he decides to do so."

On 24 March, 528 individuals were sentenced to death in Egypt on charges related to violence south of the capital Cairo. At least 600 more individuals are currently on trial for similar charges. Egypt's foreign minister, Nabil Fahmy, said the 528 people sentenced to death have not yet received their final verdict.

Davutoglu also welcomed Wednesday afternoon's unanimous declaration by Turkey's National Assembly condemning the death sentences and urging Egypt not to implement the decisions.

- March 30 Local Elections

When asked about Turkey's nationwide March 30 local elections, Davutoglu said it was a clear vote of confidence in the ruling AK Party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"The people said that they are happy with us and what we have been doing for the past 12 years. They authorized us to fight against the operations towards our nation," he said.

The foreign minister also said that no other political party had the nationwide reach of his AK Party. Davutoglu claimed if there was no AK Party, then the whole Turkey would be divided into politically partisan regions.

- Presidential Election

When asked if he would emerge as prime minister after the presidential election scheduled for August 2014, if incumbent PM Erdogan runs for president, Davutoglu said he would support Erdogan for the position but ruled himself out discussions about the prime ministerial role.

Erdogan will decide on whether to run for president after discussing the issue with incumbent head-of-state Abdullah Gul, who could serve as prime minister if Erdogan is elected to the presidential post.

- Wiretapping scandal on Syria

Davutoglu said an investigation is ongoing into a leaked conversation between him and top security officials who were recorded discussing a possible military operation in Syria; the story made headlines after the secret discussion was uploaded to YouTube.

"We will find the perpetrators no matter what," said Davutoglu. 

Foreign minister said they were discussing every possibility about a possible threat to the Suleyman Shah Tomb in Syria - Turkey's only exclave - and searched for a peaceful option.

"The recordings are montaged; we would have started a war if we wanted," he said, adding that Turkey's airspace is not a stop-by and Turkey had responded rightfully.

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