Europe

The Latest: Death penalty described as red line for Turkey

  • Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, gestures as he delivers a speech at an Atlantic Council event in Istanbul, Friday, April 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

    Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, gestures as he delivers a speech at an Atlantic Council event in Istanbul, Friday, April 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)  (The Associated Press)

  • Foreign Minister of Turkey Mevlut Cavusoglu, center, stands in between Maltese Foreign Minister George Vella, left, and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, during a break of an informal meeting of the EU foreign ministers in Valletta, Malta, Friday, April 28, 2017.  (AP Photo/Rene Rossignaud)

    Foreign Minister of Turkey Mevlut Cavusoglu, center, stands in between Maltese Foreign Minister George Vella, left, and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, during a break of an informal meeting of the EU foreign ministers in Valletta, Malta, Friday, April 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Rene Rossignaud)  (The Associated Press)

The Latest on Turkey's membership talks with the European Union (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz says that for some European Union member states the last threshold to end membership talks with Turkey would be reinstatement of the death penalty by Ankara.

Kurz said at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Valletta, Malta that for Austria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had already crossed many thresholds by jailing journalists and taking other repressive actions in the wake of a coup attempt last summer.

As such, he said, the EU's strategy to keep Turkey in the fold of acceptable democratic practices "was definitely not successful."

In the wake of a referendum victory expanding the powers of his office two weeks ago, Erdogan has been talking about reinstating of the death penalty. Capital punishment is barred in all EU nations.

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12:27 p.m.

European Union foreign ministers are seeking a way out of a stalemate on membership talks with Turkey as ties between the two have sunk to their lowest level in years.

EU ministers also will meet with their Turkish counterpart in Valletta, Malta, on Friday for the first high-level meeting since the divisive referendum in Turkey that gives more powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

While some ministers are calling for sustained relations with a pillar of the NATO alliance and a major partner in controlling the flow of migrants into the EU from Syria and beyond, others are calling for change.

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz has been at the forefront in calling for a fundamental reset of relations, and claims Turkey has thwarted fundamental EU values.

He insisted that Erdogan had crossed many "red lines" that would bar membership, including the imprisonment of journalists and undue pressure on the opposition.

In the wake of the referendum victory two weeks ago, Erdogan has been talking about the reinstatement of the death penalty, which is outlawed in all EU nations.

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9:40 a.m.

European Union foreign ministers are assessing the bloc's relations with membership candidate Turkey as ties between the two have sunk to their lowest level in years.

The meeting comes in the wake of the divisive referendum in Turkey that gives more powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his stinging criticism of several EU nations, some of which he compared to Nazis.

While some ministers are calling for sustained relations with a difficult partner who is also a pillar of the NATO alliance, others are calling for change.

Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak questioned Turkey's credentials to join the EU, saying that EU "values must be underpinned by concrete steps and you must not be saying one thing and marching in a different direction."