Istanbul – “What George, Hans or Helga say does not interest us!” roars Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “What counts for us is what Ayse, Murat, Mehmet, Hatice say!What Allah says!”.

This mantra — setting common European names against Turkish ones and finally invoking God — has become Erdogan’s standard rhetoric to tell the European Union he does not care about their reaction if Turkey restores the death penalty.

But such a move would have immense ramifications — automatically drawing the curtain on the half-century drama that has been Turkey’s bid to join the EU.

Some analysts thought that Erdogan would drop his rhetoric on capital punishment, helpful for winning the support of nationalists, after the April 16 referendum on enhancing his powers.

But with the referendum won, albeit by a narrow margin and the opposition claiming fraud, Erdogan has vigorously returned to the topic.

© AFP OZAN KOSE Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has returned to the topic of the death penalty after winning a referendum to boost his powers

© AFP OZAN KOSE – Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has returned to the topic of the death penalty after winning a referendum to boost his powers