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Turkey’s Erdogan Says Country May Hold Referendum On EU Bid

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country might hold a referendum on whether it should continue to pursue membership in the European Union.

Erdogan on March 25 said the vote, if held, would come after a planned constitutional referendum next month that could give him sweeping new powers.

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

“And after that, we could choose to do a second one on the [EU] accession talks, and we would abide by whatever our people would say there," he said.

Turkey began negotiating EU accession in 2005, but talks have not gained much ground because of several issues, including the dispute over divided Cyprus and domestic human rights.

Tensions between Turkey and the EU have intensified in recent months.

Officials in several major European cities have banned rallies by senior Turkish politicians to promote the constitutional referendum among members of Turkey's European diaspora.

The cancelations led Turkey's president to accuse authorities in Germany and the Netherlands of "Nazi practices" -- language that was sharply rebuked by EU leaders.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP