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Erdoğan says Turkey may take EU accession process to Brexit-like referendum

ANKARA, TURKEY - APRIL 17 : Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the crowd, who are celebrating the results of the referendum at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, Turkey on April 17, 2017. AFP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Monday that Turkey may hold another referendum on whether to continue with its European Union accession process, similar to how Britain voted to exit the EU.

In televised remarks to a crowd of supporters at the presidential palace in Ankara on Monday as part of celebrating a narrow win in Sunday’s referendum, Erdoğan said, “They [EU] will either immediately keep the promises it made to Turkey, or it will face its consequences.”

They threaten us with [ending] the membership [process]. No problem. Let them decide as soon as possible and notify us. … We can hold a referendum for that, too. England did a Brexit and left the EU, which it founded. Norway left the EU, too. It is for the people to decide. We will go to the people and carry out their decision,” he said.

Erdoğan also said he would immediately approve a bill to reinstate capital punishment once the parties in the Parliament pass it. “If not, we can hold another referendum for it as well,” he added.

The issue of reinstating capital punishment in Turkey has strained ties with the European Union after Erdoğan and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) suggested its reintroduction following a failed coup attempt last summer.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on March 19 that reinstatement of capital punishment in Turkey would “lead to the end of negotiations” with Ankara for its membership in the EU.

Executing the death penalty is incompatible with membership of the Council of Europe,” said Daniel Holtgen, director of communications at the Council of Europe and spokesperson for Secretary-General Thorbjørn Jagland, in reaction to the Turkish government plan to introduce the death penalty.

Responding to criticism from the EU, Erdoğan said during a rally in Antalya on March 25: “They say that if the death penalty is reinstated, Turkey will not have a place in Europe. We do not need that place.”

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