The UK Prime Minister David Cameron has swept away the hopes of millions of Turkish people by suggesting that his government would block Turkey's entry into the EU.
In sharp contrast to his previous stand, he mockingly said that Turkey would likely have to wait a thousand years to become part of the European Union. And even if the deal, which lets Turkish citizens travel to EU visa-free goes through, the UK would use its power to veto it, he said.
"We can stop Turkey from becoming a member," he said in an interview on iTV's 'Peston on Sunday' show. "Britain and every other country in the European Union has a veto on another country joining. That is a fact."
He dismissed the idea that Turkey would join the bloc any time soon, joking that its current progress toward accession meant it would not become a member until the year 3000.
His comments come ahead of the June 23 referendum that will decide if UK wants to stay in the EU. The issue has divided the British polity.
His comments have angered the Turkish people.
Cameron and his supporters want to stay in the union. But those seeking an exit have hyped up fears about threat to the British society from 'millions of Turkish immigrants.'
But instead of pacifying the often outrageous assertions, the UK Prime Minister has also jumped onto the bandwagon of scaremongers. His side wants to stay with the union exactly for the same reason: to ensure that immigrants don't enter UK.
The irony of his statement was not lost on many, especially those who remember Cameron expressing his support for Turkey's accession to EU in past.
— John Smith (@JohnRealSmith) May 22, 2016
Indeed, the transcript of Camron's speech, which he gave in Ankara on July 27, 2010, leaves one wondering what has caused the sudden change of heart if not only for political scoring.
"I am here to make the case for Turkey’s membership of the European Union and to fight for it," he had said then.
"I will remain your strongest possible advocate for EU membership and for greater influence at the top table of European diplomacy... Together I want us to pave the road from Ankara to Brussels."
That was a 3000-word speech, filled with praise for Turkey for its potential to contribute to well being of the EU.
Turkey is being used as a punching bag by conservative politicians in the run-up to the referendum. Some of them say that free-movement rules within EU could lead to a million Turkish people seeking jobs in the UK.
— Tory Totty Online (@ToryTottyOnline) May 23, 2016
They also say that among the Turkish people travelling many could be "murderers, terrorists and kidnappers." All of this is being backed by obscure newspaper articles which quote anonymous reports about risk of terrorism if Turkey joins the EU.
Even birth rates have been used to make a case against Turkey. The so-called Vote Leave camp says Turkish people bring more babies into the world than the British, something that could alter the demographics of UK.
It has also issued a controversial poster which depicts Turkish people poorly. It shows dirty footmarks, representing Turkish immigrants, on a British passport.
But this apparent hypocrisy has not missed the attention of people on social media.
— Harry Leslie Smith (@Harryslaststand) May 22, 2016
Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister in waiting, Binali Yildirim has asked the EU to make its position clear on the matter.
"This confusion over Turkey's full membership and the migrant issue has to be brought to an end. It is time for us to know what the EU thinks about Turkey."
Turkey is among seven countries, which want to join the EU.