In an exclusive interview with the Al-Jazeera network on July 20, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that "Turkey currently hosts 3 million Syrians and Iraqis" and that "Nobody should try to teach us a lesson about [human rights]." He further said that France had "revealed their true face and their ideas regarding human rights" in the way it had treated the Romani people in 2010.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan: "We cannot know the number of people involved in this military coup attempt, but we can say that they are a minority. This minority belongs to the terrorist Gülen organization.
"I do not know what the French foreign minister said, but can we ignore the measures taken by France, following the terrorist attacks that occurred there? Didn't France conduct operations of mass detentions? They declared a state of emergency for three months, then three more months and then six months. Why? For the sake of the country's security.
"Does the coup attempt constitute a crime or not? Undoubtedly, it does. Since this is a crime, who should arrest the perpetrators? The state. The state arrests them and passes them over to the judiciary, which, in turn, does what is necessary. If the detainee is a criminal, the necessary measures are taken, and if not, he is released. If the [French] foreign minister made a statement [of criticism], then he is wrong. He has no right to make any statement about this.
"If he wants to learn a lesson in democracy, he can. When they deported the Romani people [in 2010] from France, they revealed their true face and their ideas regarding human rights. Turkey, on the other hand, currently hosts 3 million Syrians and Iraqis. Nobody should try to teach us a lesson about this. We pursue only the people involved in the coup attempt. The state does what it needs to do in this case.
"We present all our evidence, through our ministers, to the United States. The relevant legal authorities in the U.S. will make the decision about this. We are a strategic ally of the United States, and therefore, the solidarity should be constant, not temporary. The two countries have common denominators. I believe that at this stage, the U.S. will take the necessary measures quickly.
"The decision about [the death penalty] is not in my hands. It is up to the people. The people demand capital punishment. We want the death penalty, they say. The decision will be made by the great Turkish parliament. If the parliament makes such a decision, and there is a demand from the people, I will undoubtedly ratify this decision, in keeping with my known authorities. We must not forget that the EU is not the entire world. There are 28 countries in the European Union, but the death penalty exists in the U.S., Russia and China. Many of the world's countries carry out death penalties. Why should people get upset when Turkey begins to discuss this? We have been standing at the gate of the EU for the past 53 years, waiting to be accepted as a member. In my view, the final decision is in the hands of the people."