Erdogan: Turkey might hold referendum on European Union membership

"Turkey has waited at the door (of the EU) for 54 years", Erdoğan said, referencing when Turkey joined the bloc's then-European Economic Community through the Ankara Agreement in 1963.

Relations between Turkey and the European Union have been tested by limits put on Turkish ministers campaigning in Europe for a "yes" vote in next month's referendum on extending Erdogan's presidential powers.

Earlier this month, Dutch and German authorities restricted Turkish officials from campaigning for diaspora votes, resulting in harsh criticism from Ankara.

He said: "Turkey is no one's whipping boy".

EU foreign affairs spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said on Thursday: "We have asked the Turkish permanent delegate to the EU to we would like to receive an explanation with regard to the comments by President Erdogan concerning the safety of Europeans on the streets of the world".

In an interview with broadcaster CNN Turk, Erdoğan said everything "from A to Z" in Turkey's relations with Europe would be reviewed after the 16 April referendum on constitutional changes that would extend his powers.

Bulgarian nationalists blocked for several hours Friday the three main crossing points with Turkey to prevent coaches bringing in thousands of Turks with Bulgarian passports to vote in Sunday's elections, organisers said, Yahoo News reported.

Turning to the issue of Kurdish separatists in Turkey and Syria, Erdogan said he was "saddened" by links which Russian Federation and the USA have with Kurdish militias.

"Mr Erdogan and his government are not welcome in our country, and that must be now be understood".

A spokeswoman for Federica Mogherini, EU foreign policy chief, said Turkey's ambassador had "actually asked the Turkish permanent delegate" to a meeting. The relationship between Erdoğan and US President Donald Trump, both populist leaders, will be closely watched, with ties between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies deeply strained.

"For as long as you continue to call me dictator, I will continue to call you fascist, Nazi", Erdogan retorted.

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.

President Erdoğan also highlighted that Turkey has made great efforts to develop ties with the bloc and received nothing in return, noting: "The real cause of the problems the European Union is facing right now is due to the attitudes of some European Union member states". Moreover, EU has also criticised the human rights situation in Turkey, particularly after the failed July 2016 coup.

  • Leroy Wright