Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during the NATO Parliamentary Assembly 62nd Annual Session in Istanbul, Turkey, November 21, 2016. REUTERS/Murad Sezer
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Since quashing a July coup attempt, Turkey's president has used extraordinary powers from a state of emergency to arrest and purge thousands of opponents. Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also vowed to back public demands to reinstate the death penalty and suggested submitting Turkey's long-sought goal of European Union membership to a referendum. With little leverage over Erdogan, the European Union and the U.S. have been watching a NATO ally that was long held up as a model democracy in the Muslim world slide deeper toward autocracy and move further away from the EU.Cagaptay said Trump would likely give Erdogan a "free pass" as long as he has the Turkey president's support in the fight against Daesh (ISIS).In addition, Turkish leaders frequently accuse Germany and other EU countries of harboring wanted Kurdish militants and treating Turkey unfairly by placing hurdles in the way of its EU bid.Amid the threats from some EU countries to freeze Turkey's EU membership talks, Erdogan challenged the EU to cut off the talks completely and later also suggested Turkey could hold a referendum to let the people decide on whether Ankara should press ahead with its efforts to join the bloc.
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