Erdoğan signals review of relations with EU after April 16 referendum

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SAKARYA, TURKEY - MARCH 16: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addresses the crowd during a mass opening ceremony at the Democracy Square in Sakarya, Turkey on March 16, 2017. AFP

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has recently been employing an anti-European rhetoric, has said Turkey will review its relations with the EU following a public referendum on April 16 that will introduce an executive presidency in the country if approved.

Speaking at a meeting in Ankara on Tuesday, Erdoğan said: “They are now disregarding everything they imposed on us as EU criteria for years. When April 16 is over, we will sit around a table and talk. As Turkey, we will do what is necessary. Things can’t go on like this.”

Erdoğan has recently been using an increasingly anti-European rhetoric due to some European countries’ refusal to allow Turkish government officials to hold campaign rallies for the upcoming referendum. He even likened countries such as Germany and the Netherlands to “Nazis and fascists” for refusing to allow Turkish ministers to campaign there.

Turkey is a candidate to join the EU, although the membership negotiations have made little progress over the past decade. The country has become a vital partner in a deal with the EU to curb the passage of migrants and refugees from Turkey into Europe.

“The EU process or the readmission agreement, they will no longer be able to threaten us with any of them, those things are over. When we adopt the presidential system of governance on April 16, a very different Turkey will be born,” Erdoğan said.

The readmission agreement signed in December 2013 basically requires Turkey to take refugees back who crossed to Greece and hence Europe illegally in return for visa-free travel for Turks if Turkey fulfills 72 requirements set by the EU.

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