Erdogan hints at referendum on Turkey joining EU

Erdogan hints at referendum on Turkey joining EU
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview published Sunday he might consider holding referendum to decide whether to with EU or not. (Reuter)
Updated 14 November 2016

Erdogan hints at referendum on Turkey joining EU

Erdogan hints at referendum on Turkey joining EU

ISTANBUL/ANKARA: Accusing Brussels of wanting Turkey to abandon its bid to join the EU, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hinted in an interview published Sunday he might put the question to a referendum. In another development, Turkey’s Defense Ministry is said to have dismissed over 300 military personnel.
Mr. Erdogan told the leading daily Hurriyet that “The European Union is trying to compel us to withdraw from this (accession) process. If they don’t want us they should be clear about this, they should make a decision.”
“Our patience is not endless. If need be, later, we could also consult our people,” he said, alluding to the UK’s Brexit referendum in June.
Turkey’s bid to join the EU dates back to the 1960s with formal talks starting in 2005. But the process has been mired in problems, which current tensions have done nothing to help.
Rocky relations between Ankara and the EU became even more strained in the wake of the failed coup in Turkey in July.
“Some people are saying we should lift the state of emergency. Why would we lift it now?” Erdogan told Hurriyet.
On Saturday, the president reiterated that he would support parliament if it voted to restore the death penalty, a move that would further alienate Turkey from its European critics.
On Wednesday, an EU report on candidate countries warned that Turkey’s “backsliding” on rights since the coup attempt was putting its membership bid at risk.
“Turkey has apparently chosen to move away from Europe,” EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn said as he unveiled the report.
Turkey dismissed the report as “far from objective.”

Navy officers dismissed
Turkey’s Defense Ministry has suspended or dismissed another 310 military personnel as part of an ongoing investigation into the movement allegedly responsible for July’s failed coup. The ministry tweeted Sunday that 168 officers and 123 non-commissioned officers have been suspended from the navy, while 15 officers and four non-commissioned officers were dishonorably discharged.
Over 4,200 military personnel had been dismissed by the ministry since the failed coup on July 15 which killed over 270 people.
Close to 37,000 people have been arrested, more than 100,000 people dismissed or suspended from government jobs, and 170 media outlets and scores of businesses and associations have been shut down over alleged ties to a movement led by Fethullah Gulen, the US-based Muslim cleric whom Turkey accuses of masterminding the failed coup.
Late on Saturday, an Istanbul court formally arrested the chairman of opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet at Istanbul’s main airport on Friday, days after nine of its executives and journalists were formally arrested.
Authorities had ordered the paper’s editor and senior staff be held in jail pending trial over the secularist newspaper’s alleged support for a coup attempt on July 15.
Under the state of emergency declared after the coup attempt, police can detain suspects for up to 30 days before a court must decide whether to issue a formal arrest warrant pending trial.
Turkey has also closed more than 130 media outlets since July, raising concerns among its Western allies about deteriorating press freedoms.