President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reiterated his promise to hold a referendum over the fate of Turkey’s long-stalled membership negotiations with the European Union.
Mr. Erdogan told an Indian TV on Monday that the 28-member bloc made Turkey wait at its gates for many decades. Describing the bloc as “not sincere or honest,” Mr. Erdogan said Turkey would pursue a Brexit-like referendum on the EU.
Turkish president’s statement on quitting negotiations with the EU is the latest evidence that Ankara is determined to put an end to the prospect of becoming a member of the bloc.
Mr. Erdogan’s remarks about the EU came during his visit to Asia, as he is seeking to deepen Turkey’s ties with Asian giants like India and China. He frequently floats the idea of joining the Shangai Cooperation Organization, a bloc dominated by China and Russia, as an alternative to the EU.
Turkey’s burgeoning ties with Russia are poised to pull Ankara away from the EU and Moscow is hoping to weaken Turkey’s alliance with the West. Mr. Erdogan is banking on the support of Turks who have grown frustrated due to years of deadlocked accession negotiations.
Just before the referendum on constitutional changes last month, Mr. Erdogan engaged in a weeks-long war of words with European leaders, accusing them of “Nazi practices” and promising “necessary measures,” including a Brexit-style referendum.
It was Mr. Erdogan in 2014, who pushed European leaders to launch the accession negotiations a year later. Turkey made sweeping political and judicial reforms for half a decade, but the appetite to join the union was lost due to Turkey’s slowdown of reforms as well as the opposition of some member states.
Last year, the European Parliament advised the Commission to suspend negotiations with Turkey. Last month, Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe (PACE) reopened monitoring process against Turkey, accelerating the process of canceling Turkey’s candidate status.
Turkey’s rush to quit talks before the bloc suspends the negotiations will be a domestic political victory for Mr. Erdogan, who enhanced his popularity by partly standing up to European nations.
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