Image Attribute: File photo of Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Turkey could hold a referendum on whether to continue membership talks with the European Union next year, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Monday, repeating his warning to Brussels that it needed to "make up its mind" on Turkey's EU accession, hinting at the possibility of a Brexit-like referendum on the fate of Turkey’s EU membership candidacy.
“Our patience has its limits. We will wait till the end of this year. Then we could go to our people," Erdoğan said in Ankara, at a meeting on the national agriculture project.
Turkey signed an association agreement with the then-European Community in 1963, and submitted a membership application in 1987. Talks about Ankara's membership of the European Union began in 2005. Sixteen out of 35 chapters of the accession talks have been opened.
The negotiations on Turkish EU membership have been repeatedly suspended due to the Cyprus dispute and Turkey's record of denying press freedom, among other obstacles.
However, in mid-March, the European Union agreed to intensify the talks in exchange for Turkish agreement to help reduce the flow of migrants to Europe.
European Union foreign ministers were meeting on Monday to consider shelving membership talks with Turkey over what they see as its lurch away from democracy after a failed coup in July, although there is no consensus for such a move.
He criticized European Parliament President Martin Schulz, who has said that the President's actions after the coup "call into question the basis for the sustainable relationship between the EU and Turkey".
"What are you?" Mr Erdogan asked, "Since when do you have the authority to decide for Turkey? How can you, who have not taken Turkey into the EU for 53 years, find the authority to make such a decision?"
"This people makes its own decisions, cuts its own umbilical cord," he said.
He also again vowed that he would approve the reinstating of the death penalty - a move that would likely bring membership talks with the EU to a complete halt - if parliament passes a law on it. He said this reintroduction could also be part of any referendum.
Based on reporting from Anadolu Agency, Reuters, and Sputnik