ANKARA (AFP) – President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said Turkey could hold a referendum on its long-stalled EU membership bid after Turks voted to approve expanding his powers in a plebiscite.
“For 54 years, what did they make us do at the EU’s door? Wait!” Erdogan told supporters outside the presidential palace in Ankara, referring to Turkey’s long-standing membership bid.
He hit back at threats by EU leaders to freeze accession talks, adding: “We will sit down and talk, and we can hold a referendum for that (EU bid) too!”
Erdogan added such a vote would be like that in the UK where last year, Britons voted to leave the bloc in a similarly close result.
He repeated the refrain he used often in speeches during the referendum campaign that it did not matter what the EU thought.
“What George, Hans or Helga say does not interest us,” he said, using typical European names. “What counts for us is what Ayse, Murat, Mehmet, Hatice says. What Allah (God) says!” he added, using Islamic-rooted Turkish names.
Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said earlier Monday that Brussels should end talks after the results of Sunday’s referendum in which ‘Yes’ won by 51.41 percent.
“With what happened yesterday, (Turkey’s) membership prospects are buried, in practical terms,” Kern said.
Erdogan repeated in his speech that he would approve the death penalty if a bill was submitted to him, adding there could be a referendum on capital punishment as well if necessary.
The EU has been quick to warn Turkey any return of the death penalty would mean the immediate end of its membership bid.
Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004 as part of its bid to join the bloc.