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Iran Press TV

Erdogan: 'Sick man' Europe collapsing, Turkey 'growing'

Iran Press TV

Sun Apr 9, 2017 5:55PM

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blasted at "crazy" European leaders for alleged opposing Turkey's upcoming referendum on expanding his powers, saying Ankara will reconsider its bid for membership in the European Union (EU) after holding the plebiscite, casting new doubts about Turkey's decades-long membership drive.

"You have seen what happened in Europe. Why did they go crazy? Why did they go berserk? They saw what this system will bring to Turkey. Turkey is leaping, growing. This makes them go crazy," Erdogan said at a pro-government rally in the western province of Izmir on Sunday, referring to Germany and the Netherlands that have prevented Turkish ministers from campaigning on their soils for a "Yes" vote in the April 16 referendum.

"Europe will pay for what they have done. God willing, the question of the European Union will again be on the table after April 16," Erdogan further said. He also labelled Europe as a "sick man", using the jibe that 19th century European politicians and leaders used to describe the aging Ottoman Empire.

"They said a century ago that we were the 'sick man'. Now they are the 'sick man'. Europe is collapsing," the Turkish leader added, claiming the European economy has weakened year after year. Earlier, he had described Europe as a "Nazism" and "rotting" center.

The referendum is aimed at abolishing the office of the prime minister and giving more executive powers, including issuing decrees, declaring emergency rule, appointing ministers and state officials and dissolving the parliament, to the currently largely ceremonial position of president in Turkey. Critics say the vote would give the president dictatorial powers.

Erdogan also reiterated that after the next week's plebiscite he would revive the capital punishment "without hesitation" – if it was passed by parliament – a move that would automatically terminate the EU membership bid.

Last month, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned that the measure was a "red line" in Ankara's stalled bid.

Turkey has been attempting to become part of the EU for decades. Formal EU accession negotiations, however, began in 2005. The process has been mired in problems, and only 16 chapters of the 35-chapter accession procedure have been opened for Ankara so far.

In November last year, the European Parliament suspended the accession talks with Ankara over concerns regarding human rights and the rule of law following the July 15 coup attempt against Erdogan, which Ankara claims was organized by US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. In January, Turkey called on the EU to resume the negotiations.

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