Erdoğan says another referendum on Turkey’s EU accession may be held after April 16

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ANTALYA, TURKEY - MARCH 25 : Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during the closing ceremony of the sixth meeting of annual Turkish-British Tatlidil Forum in Antalya, Turkey on March 25, 2017. AFP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Saturday that Turkey may hold another referendum on whether to continue with its EU accession process after an April 16 referendum on a constitutional package that will expand his powers and turn Turkey into an executive presidency.

Speaking at an Anglo-Turkish forum in the southern city of Antalya on Saturday, Erdoğan continued the row with the European Union, which started after the cancellation of rallies by Turkish ministers in EU countries, saying he would see the country hold a referendum on whether to pursue EU membership.

“Right now we are holding a referendum on April 16, and after that we could choose to do a second one on the [EU] accession talks, and we would abide by whatever our people would say there,” he said.

Erdoğan has been angry at the slow progress of EU accession talks, which began in 2005, but which have been held up due to disagreements over Cyprus, human rights and other issues.

Turkey’s relations with various European countries have recently become strained due to the cancellation of rallies planned to be attended by Turkish ministers in order to seek the support of Turkish expatriates for a referendum in Turkey on April 16 that will expand Erdoğan’s powers and change Turkey into an executive presidency.

In a speech in İstanbul on Sunday, Erdoğan said EU will never accept Turkey because it is a Muslim nation and accused EU countries of forming “the alliance of crusaders” against Turkey.

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