There is no law that would require Belgium to allow any foreign community living on its soil to participate in another country’s referendum, the Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel indicated. He was responding to a question in parliament of any eventuality that Turkey will hold the referendum.
Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004. However in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt last year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made it understood that he could reintroduce the death penalty in Turkey by referring the matter to a referendum. Already in May, both Belgian Prime Minister and German chancellor Angela Merkel announced that they would not accept any voting on the matter in their respective countries.
Back in May, Mr Michel said he would ask for a juridical opinion on the matter. In his answer to the question today in parliament, he was more precise. “In the current state of international law, there is no legal requirement which formally obliges Belgium to allow a diasporic community residing on Belgian soil to participate in its country of origin’s referendum”, he explained. The Belgian Prime Minister reminded the audience of the principal of state sovereignty. “Belgium is not obliged to authorize the organization of a referendum, against its will”, he added.
This refusal would not be a first. In 2014, Belgium did not allow the Syrian Embassy to organise the presidential election orchestrated by the Bashar al-Assad regime in 2014, which the European Union described as a “farce”.
On Tuesday, the court process of over 500 people, accused of having taken part of the coup attempt in Turkey opened. As the accused were entering the court, they were “welcomed” by crowds brandishing signs with ropes and knots, signalling they wanted the death penalty.
The Brussels Times