Turkish president suggests referendum on Turkey’s EU bid
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has suggested he could take his country to a referendum over its EU bid, which he said has been long-stalled.
“If the European Union continues wasting Turkey’s time in its accession to the union, then the country could hold a referendum over its membership bid,” Erdoğan said at the TRT World Forum on Oct. 4.
“It is better to see this process faster so that Turkey can determine its way. European countries hold referendums twice or thrice a year. One should get used to referendums,” he added.
Asked whether the EU project is nearing its end, Erdogan said: “I also see those signs.”
Turkey has been waiting for membership for decades, the president said.
“We may have many things that we could contribute to the EU and them to us. But if they move with this mindset, what should be done is, I suppose, consult 81 million people [Turkey’s population] and look at what decision they will make,” he said.
He also called for serious reform of the United Nations Security Council, which he said should have representation from countries from all continents of the world. “We need to achieve a United Nations Security Council with the participation of seven continents,” Erdoğan said.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has taken the nation to several elections in recent years, including a referendum to expand the president’s powers and twin parliamentary and presidential elections.
But the president’s rebuke comes at a time when Ankara is normalizing relations with the EU, having had meetings in Germany last week, a partner Turkey has been at loggerheads with in recent years. Last week, Erdoğan said Turkey would not turn its back on the European Union.
Speaking at the opening session of the new legislative year in parliament on Oct. 1, Erdoğan said there have been tensions in recent years with some EU countries due to “unfulfilled promises and unjust accusations.”
“We could not remain silent in the face of the injustice in our EU membership bid process and the double standards,” Erdoğan said.
Turkey’s accession talks began in 2005, but the negotiations stalled in 2007 due to objections from the Greek Cypriot administration on the divided island of Cyprus, as well as opposition from Germany and France.
Turkey must successfully conclude negotiations on 35 policy chapters that involve reforms and the adoption of European standards. As of May 2016, a total of 16 chapters had been opened and one concluded.
However, in December 2016, the member states said no new chapters would be opened.