Turkey may hold referendum on EU accession bid: Erdoğan

Turkey may hold referendum on EU accession bid: Erdoğan

Turkey may hold referendum on EU accession bid: Erdoğan

DHA photo

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on March 25 that Turkey may hold another referendum on whether to continue with EU accession talks, following the April 16 referendum to shift to an executive presidential system.

“Right now we are holding a referendum on April 16. After that we could choose to do another on the EU accession talks and we would abide by whatever our people would say there,” Erdoğan said at the closing ceremony of the Turkish-British “Tatlıdil” Forum in the southern province of Antalya.

“Turkey has waited at the door [of the EU] for 54 years,” he added, referring to 1963 when Ankara partnered up with the bloc’s then economic union.

Earlier in the day, Erdoğan warned that the country is “not anyone’s stooge,” amid increasing tension with EU member countries.

“[The EU] says it will not take us into the EU if the ‘yes’ side wins on April 16. If only they would make this decision. It would make our work easier. It would allow us to take swifter decisions. April 16 is a breaking point for us. For that reason, a ‘yes’ vote is very important. We will discuss this in detail because Turkey is not the stooge of anyone. Everyone should know that,” Erdoğan had said at a rally in Antalya.

Turkey’s accession talks with the EU began in 2005 but have progressed at a snail’s pace due to concerns over its human rights record, the Cyprus issue, and reluctance among some European countries to admit a largely Muslim nation.

Turkey is an integral part of a deal to keep hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants fleeing the Middle East and beyond from moving to Europe, in return for 3 billion euros ($3.2 billion) in EU financial aid to Ankara.

Separately, on March 26, Erdoğan also repeated his vow to continue to call Europeans “fascists” and “Nazis” as long as they call him a “dictator,” speaking at an opening ceremony in the Gaziosmanpaşa district of Istanbul.

“If they close the borders on my minister and issue a flight ban on another, will I remain silent? You will call the president of the Turkish Republic a ‘dictator’? When we call them fascists and Nazis, they are disturbed. Are you not the ones who put swastikas on the walls of our mosques? Have you not torn down and burned our mosques?” he said, also giving examples from the Solingen incident and the NSU trial in Germany.

“You are fascists, fascists. You can be disturbed by the Nazi comparisons as long as you want. But if you draw swastikas on the walls of our mosques and do not hold the people responsible to account, you cannot get rid of this stain,” he added.

Relations between Ankara and the continent have become increasingly strained in recent weeks. Recently, the Netherlands banned Turkish Family Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu from entering the country to hold a campaign for the charter referendum.