Turkey could hold a referendum next year on whether to continue membership talks with the European Union, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.
"Let's wait until the end of the year and then go to the people. Let's go to the people since they will make the final call. Even Britain went to the people. Britain said 'let's exit', and they left," Erdogan said in Ankara.
Erdogan's statement came after European Parliament President Martin Schulz over the weekend threatened Turkey with ending membership process and even placing economic sanctions against Ankara over the arrests made since the July 15 failed coup attempt.
But Turkey says detentions are part of on-going operations against the coup plotters and their supporters.
President Erdogan criticised Schulz saying: "Who are you? Since when do you have the authority to decide on behalf of Turkey?"
He called Schulz "rude" for pushing the EU to introduce sanctions against Turkey.
— Turkish Presidency (@trpresidency) November 14, 2016
'No effect on Turkey'
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also responded to Schulz’s remarks.
“[Martin] Schulz’s threatening statements have no effect on us,” Cavusoglu told reporters in the Turkish capital Ankara following a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Sunday.
“If he is strong enough, he should be using this discourse against those supporting terror in the EU member countries,” he said.
Turkey first applied to become a member of the EU in 1987 but the formal accession talks started only in 2005. As a candidate country, Turkey has to successfully conclude negotiations with the EU in 35 chapters in various policy areas, which involve reforms and adaptation of European standards for its EU membership.
Since then, Turkey has started the negotiations on 14 chapters but only one chapter could be opened in the past three years, mainly due to the Cyprus issue and the obstruction of the governments of Greece and France.