Turkey may hold referendum on EU membership

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says it’s up to the people to decide the future of accession talks.

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

President Erdogan speaks at the Turkish British Tatlıdil Forum in Turkey's southern province of Antalya on March 25, 2017.

Updated Mar 27, 2017

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that Turkey may hold a Brexit-like referendum on whether to continue with European Union (EU) accession talks.

"Right now we are holding a referendum on April 16, and after that we could choose to do a second one on the [EU] accession talks and we would abide by whatever our people would say there," Erdogan said during the Turkish-British Tatlidil Forum in Antalya, a southern province. 

His comments come as Ankara’s ties with the European Union have strained in recent weeks over the presidential referendum.

Turkey is headed for a crucial vote next month on whether to go ahead with constitutional reforms that the government says will help bring stability in the country.

Earlier Saturday, at a rally, Erdogan lashed out at those who claimed Turkey would not be let into the EU if the referendum passed, saying "Turkey is no one's whipping boy."

Turkey began EU accession talks in 2005, but they have moved slowly due to disagreements over Cyprus, changes in anti-terrorism laws and other issues.

Turkey's EU minister slams UK report

Turkey's EU minister Omer Celik criticised a report released by the UK Foreign Affairs Committee last Saturday, saying some of its conclusions on last year's coup attempt in Turkey were partial.

"When such reports are being prepared, they either do not ask for our opinions, or they put them aside and write a one-sided report," Celik told reporters after the forum.

Celik said the UK should get in touch with Turkish parliamentarians – both from the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party and opposition parties – to draw up a "joint report."

"This way, you could clearly establish the issues you agree and disagree on," he said.

Ankara blames the FETO terrorist organisation for orchestrating the July 15 coup attempt which left 249 people dead and about 2,200 others wounded.​


TRTWorld and agencies