Erdogan says Turkey may hold referendum on European Union accession bid

A "local and national presidency" would be within the framework of Turkish Republic's founding principles from 1923, Erdogan said during an engagement in Turkey's Aegean Denizli province.

"Right now, we are holding a [constitutional] referendum on April 16", Erdogan told a forum in the southern city of Antalya.

Turkey's president has accused Germany and the Netherlands of behaving like Nazis for halting rallies by Turkish ministers, comments that both countries have called unacceptable.

Despite severely strained relations with Brussels, no European Union leader has openly said a "yes" vote would spell the end of Turkey's already-embattled bid to join the bloc.

"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.

After this, we may hold a Brexit-like referendum on the [EU] negotiations.

Referring to the poster of him with a gun pointed to his head, Erdogan said: "Could there be such a mentality, such an understanding?"

Erdogan also said he would have "face to face" talks with U.S. President Donald Trump in May, and Syria and Fethullah Gulen, the U.S. -based Islamic preacher blamed for July 15 failed coup, were the top bilateral issues.

Turkey's relations with the European Union countries have soured over the past few months after Germany and the Netherlands cancelled campaign rallies on their territories by Turkish officials seeking to drum up support among expatriate Turks for a "yes" vote in the April referendum.

Erdogan said double standards should not be applied against different countries, adding Europe would suffer most from such a loss.

A spokeswoman for Federica Mogherini, EU foreign policy chief, said Turkey's ambassador had "actually asked the Turkish permanent delegate" to a meeting.

"Freedom of expression is a universal value recognized by Switzerland, which hopes that this freedom will also hold true for Turkish citizens whether they cast their votes in Switzerland or in their own country", it quoted Burkhalter as saying.

The United Patriots said more than 1,000 buses with voters from Turkey were expected to cross the border - a movement they say is organized and paid for by the Turkish state to increase support for the DOST party.

  • Zachary Reyes