Turkey could put EU talks to a referendum next year, says Erdogan

'This people makes its own decisions, cuts its own umbilical cord,' says Turkish president

Harriet Agerholm
Monday 14 November 2016 15:22

Turkey could hold a referendum on whether to continue membership discussions with the European Union next year, President Tayyip Erdogan has said.

The controversial leader repeated his warning to Brussels that it must "make up its mind" on Turkish membership.

European Union foreign ministers met on Monday to consider halting membership talks with Turkey over its perceived move away from democratic principles.

A military coup in July prompted President Erdogan to arrest and detain thousands of military leaders, academics, teachers and journalist on suspicion of plotting against him.

Since the failed putsch, many people have alleged on social media that the armed uprising in which more than 250 people were killed was orchestrated by the government.

Mr Erdogan is currently looking to expand his powers by changing the Turkish constitution.

In a speech in Ankara broadcast live on television, Mr Erdogan said a vote could be held on EU membership at the end of the year.

"Let's wait until the end of the year and then go to the people. Let's go to the people since they will make the final call.

"Even Britain went to the people. Britain said 'let's exit', and they left," Mr Erdogan said.

He criticised European Parliament President Martin Schulz, who said 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.

Mr Erdogan also said he would approve bringing in the death penatly – a move that would likely end any hope of Turkish membership in the EU – if parliament passed a law on it, and the punishment could also be put to a referendum.

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