Berlin: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed European leaders as "insincere" and said reintroducing the death penalty was the will of the people in an interview with German public broadcaster ARD that was aired late Monday.
Erdogan, who is conducting a sweeping purge of suspected sympathizers of the attempted coup on 15-16July, said that "European leaders are insincere" for failing to uphold their commitments in a deal to stop migrants from entering Europe.
The Turkish leader said that the European Union had transferred up to 2 million euros (2.2 million dollars) of the 3 billion euros it promised to Ankara in exchange for the return of migrants to Turkey.
He also said that the EU had failed to follow through on its pledge to lift visa requirements for Turkish citizens.
Erdogan justified the death penalty by saying the government's attempt to reintroduce it was in line with the will of the Turkish people and that the punishment existed "almost everywhere" except Europe.
"If we are in a democratic state of law, the people decide. And what are the people saying today? They want the death penalty to be reintroduced," Erdogan told ARD.
"Europe is the only place where there is no death penalty. It exists almost everywhere else," he added.
The interview was widely derided by German editorialists as a PR coup for Erdogan.
The ARD's "feeble" interview questions resulted in a "guaranteed PR coup" for Erdogan, whose "supporters in Germany will be delighted at how well the Turkish president was able to sell himself," according to an editorial in the conservative FAZ newspaper.
"One gets the impression that the [interviewer] handled Erdogan with kid gloves. That's no way to get to someone like Erdogan," an editorial in WAZ, Germany's biggest regional newspaper, said.