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Turkey may hold referendum on EU accession talks

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Turkey may hold a referendum on whether to continue European Union accession talks after the April 16 referendum on the presidential system, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday. reports that speaking at the sixth Turkish-British Tatlıdil Forum in southern Antalya province on Saturday, Erdoğan said that Turkey may hold a referendum on the issue as 54 years have passed since Turkey started relations with the EU's predecessor the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1963 with the final goal of membership.

"We have a referendum on April 16. After it, we may hold a Brexit-like referendum on the [EU] negotiations. No matter what our nation decides, we will obey it," Erdoğan said.

In June 2016, more than half of British voters voted in favor of ending the U.K.'s 46-year long membership.

Turkey applied for membership of the EEC in 1987; accession talks began in 2005. However, negotiations hit a stalemate in 2007 because of Turkey's position on the Cyprus issue. Also, the German and French governments opposed the country's full EU membership.

Erdogan also touched upon the recent spat between Turkey and several European countries over the campaigning for Turks living in Europe.

"It should be known that our patience has limits before the attitude displayed against us in some European countries. We cannot tolerate 400 years of relations being sacrificed, our country, our nation, diplomats and ministers being insulted everyday for the sake of four seats [in the Parliament]. We expect European politicians to give up their wrong attitude immediately." Erdoğan said, while lashing out at Saturday's rally in Bern, in which PKK sympathizers displayed a banner that read "Kill Erdoğan" with a gun pointed to the Turkish president's head.

Erdoğan added that he told Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, that Britain chose to leave the EU in a referendum, and Turkey may hold a similar referendum on whether to continue the accession process.

In his speech, Erdoğan once again condemned Wednesday's terror attack near the Houses of Parliament in London that killed four people and injured some 40 others.

"This attack is the latest example of terror having no boundaries, no principles, no morals. It is very noteworthy that the parliament was targeted and it has similarites with the July 15 coup attempt, in which our parliament was bombed."

Erdoğan said that terror is bound to lose eventually, and Turkey clearly and openly stands by the U.K. in its fight against terror.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Alan Duncan are also attending the forum.

2017.03.25 / 23:19
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