Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has suggested Turkey could hold a referendum over whether to continue its long-stalled accession process to join the European Union.
Angrily lashing out at the bloc's treatment of Ankara, Erdogan said Turkey could hold a referendum along the lines of the plebiscite in Britain, where voters are deciding Thursday whether to stay in the European Union or leave.
His comments were the first time the Turkish strongman had raised the prospect of holding a referendum on Turkey's EU bid. He had previously repeatedly insisted that full membership of the European Union was Turkey's strategic aim.
"We can stand up and ask the people just like the British are doing," Erdogan said late Wednesday at a speech in Istanbul, quoted by the state-run Anadolu news agency.
"We would ask 'Do we continue the negotiations with the European Union or do we end it?' If the people say 'continue', then we would carry on," Erdogan said.
A landmark deal agreed in March between Turkey and the European Union was expected to calm tensions and give new momentum to the Turkish membership bid.
But the EU is insisting it cannot grant Turkey the key sweetener of visa-free travel to the Schengen area if it does not narrow the scope of its anti-terror laws, something Ankara has refused to do.
Erdogan said while Turkey was hosting three million refugees from the Syria and Iraq conflicts, Europe had been rattled by the prospect of giving sanctuary to any migrants.
"You are not keeping your promise. This is your (Europe's) ugly face. When Erdogan exposes your ugly face you go crazy," he said.