Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has hinted that a public referendum could be held to determine the fate of Turkey’s EU membership adventure, the t24 news website reported.
Speaking at the closing session of the TRT World Forum on Thursday, he said: “No matter how strong the EU is, we can be just as strong. There are many things that we would contribute to the EU, and there could be many things that they would contribute to us. But if it continues with this mindset, what we will do is — and this will be a good headline for newspapers tomorrow — go to our 81 million people and see what they say about it.”
Turkey began formal EU accession negotiations in October 2005. In 2010, Turkey’s membership bid stalled and has been for years over issues including the divided island of Cyprus, an EU member, and regression in human rights and the rule of law in Turkey.
Erdoğan also said that during his last visit to the US he met with some EU member state presidents and told them to make a decision about Turkey’s EU membership bid.
“If you are going to take us [into the bloc], do so. If not, tell us and we’ll go our own way,” Erdoğan said he told the EU heads of state at the time.
The Turkish president accused the EU of wasting Turkey’s time and discriminating against the country.
“There can’t be any such cruelty. Countries that can never compete with us in any area have been made members of the EU. We have fulfilled the Copenhagen criteria from A to Z. But countries that have nothing to do with them are now members,” Erdoğan said, adding that he is the most senior prime minister and president among the heads of EU countries.