Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his country may have a Brexit-style referendum on whether or not to continue European Union membership process after the April 16 referendum for constitutional changes, signaling that Ankara may further distance itself from the 28-member bloc.
“Britain has made a decision with Brexit, there may be different things after April 16,” Mr. Erdogan said on Saturday in the resort town of Antalya. “We have a referendum on April 16 and we may hold a Brexit-like referendum too on the EU negotiations,” the president added.
The relationship between the EU and Turkey has significantly deteriorated in the past year since the failed coup attempt in Turkey. Many EU member countries condemned the coup attempt but expressed concerns over the direction Turkey has taken as part of its post-coup crackdown.
Ties with European nations have declined sharply since last month, with European and Turkish politicians engaging in a nasty war of words. Mr. Erdogan continues throwing Nazi slurs against European countries, including Germany and the Netherlands and accused Switzerland, Belgium, and Austria of being not free. The political tensions escalated after the European countries refused to give platforms for Turkish ministers to address Turks living Europe.
On Monday, Turkish citizens in Europe started casting their votes in Turkish diplomatic missions.
The referendum on April 16 will grant sweeping powers to Mr. Erdogan, allowing him to dissolve the Parliament, declare state of emergency. The constitutional changes will also put tight control over the judiciary.
European Parliament Rapporteur for Turkey, Kati Piri, said the EU Parliament will assess whether Turkey’s new governance structure meets the bloc’s Copenhagen accession criteria.
Last year, Mr. Erdogan made a similar statement on abandoning the EU bid through a referendum, but the recent escalation of tensions may accelerate the process. Last week, Mr. Erdogan said the EU accession talks, Readmission Agreement and Migrant Deal are over.
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