'Bad Timing': Turkey's Warning of Trexit Has No 'Sufficient Basis'
Commenting on the recent announcement of President Erdogan that Turkey could hold a referendum next year on whether to continue membership talks with the EU, Turkish political analysts explained to Sputnik why it is "bad timing" for a vote like this.
On Monday, President Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey could hold a referendum next year on whether to continue membership talks with the European Union, repeating his warning to Brussels that it needed to "make up its mind" on Turkish accession.
The announcement came in response to criticism by European Union foreign ministers of Turkey's crackdown on alleged supporters of a failed military coup in July and Austria's call to suspend Ankara's EU membership bid. As the 28 EU foreign ministers met in Brussels on Monday, President Tayyip Erdogan reiterated that he would restore the death penalty, a move that would surely scupper any EU talks if passed. Erdogan also urged Turks to be patient about the EU accession process until the end of the year. "Let's wait until the end of the year and then go to the people. Let's go to the people since they will make the final call. Even Britain went to the people. Britain said 'let's exit', and they left," Erdogan said. Commenting on the announcement of the Turkish president, Sinan Ülgen, Chairman of the Istanbul-based Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM) explained to Sputnik Turkiye why it is "bad timing" for such a vote. "The relationship between Turkey and the EU is going through probably the most challenging period in its history, and both sides are responsible for it," he told Sputnik. © REUTERS/ FRANCOIS LENOIR Turkey 'Tired of EU Uncertainty and Pressure' During Accession Talks – AKP Lawmaker "The European Union has long been pursuing a two-faced policy towards Turkey: regardless of how the negotiations look, Brussels has been constantly slowing down the process, inventing new hurdles for Ankara's accession into the block," he explained. Partially due to this very reason, he said, Turkey's eagerness to join the union has been recently waning. Starting from 2011 and until now there has been no progress in the negotiations, leading to the relationship coming to near breaking point. Meanwhile, he said, this is not the right time for the referendum in Turkey as member countries put the issue of membership in the EU on certain conditions only after negotiations with Brussels have been completed. In Turkey's, there is no real basis for such a referendum. Currently there are a number of complications between Turkey and the EU which can be overcome diplomatically. There is no example in history when a country has had a referendum on whether to continue negotiations on EU accession, the political analyst explained. If the government sees it necessary to continue these negotiations, it will further undertake the necessary steps to continue the dialogue. If not, it will make the decision to stop them. In this case there are no grounds for holding a referendum as the negotiation process is still ongoing, it has not been completed yet and there are no concrete results which warrant asking the opinion of the people. © REUTERS/ VINCENT KESSLER Ankara ‘Fed Up’ With EU Attitude Toward Turkey's Accession to Bloc In case the Turkish leadership makes a decision to hold the referendum it might be perceived by the public as a failure of the authorities to conduct negotiations properly. Sinan Ülgen reiterated that the Turkish government still has an opportunity to overcome all the complications with Brussels through negotiations, citing as an example the negotiations on the settlement of the Cyprus issue. The progress in these talks could have a positive impact on the relationship between Ankara and Brussels. Besides, he said, there are a number of commitments on visa liberalization which Turkey has not yet fulfilled. Plus, there are planned negotiations on further expansion of the Customs Union, which, if successful, might boost negotiations on EU accession. Meanwhile Berat Conkar, a lawmaker from the Turkish ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) told Sputnik that Turkey has a right to consult with the population about the ongoing talks via a referendum, as his home country is tired of the uncertainty and EU pressure. He urged the European Union to take a clear stance on the accession negotiations with Turkey. “The European Union must clarify its position on the negotiation process with Turkey whereas we have a right to refer to the people’s opinion and on its basis decide how this process will be organized,” Conkar, who is also co-chairman of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, said.