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    A poster of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the upcoming referendum is seen backdropped by the Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul, Friday, March 24, 2017

    A Nail in the Coffin: Erdogan's Referendum to Shatter Turkey's EU Dream

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    Turkey's upcoming referendum on constitutional amendments will put an end to talks on the country's EU entry, Turkish political analyst Cengiz Aktar told Sputnik Turkey.

    In an interview with Sputnik Turkey, Cengiz Aktar, Turkish expert on the EU, said that the country's forthcoming referendum on constitutional changes may ultimately lead to the end of negotiations on Turkey's accession to the EU.

    On April 16, the Turks are due to would vote on the issue of constitution amendments that could result in expanding their country's presidential powers.

    In January 2017, the Turkish parliament supported the corresponding constitutional amendments which were then approved by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey's opposition has repeatedly voiced protest against the package, saying that it was Erdogan's attempt to grab more power.

    "Europe has formed a common point of view, according to which Turkey cannot enter the EU with its new constitution due to be adopted after the referendum," Cengiz Aktar said.

    The expert also stressed that "a country that has deteriorated relations not only with the EU, but also with most European public and political organizations, is currently at the crossroads and must make a choice."

    "In a recent interview with an Austrian newspaper, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Johannes Khan mentioned Turkey's referendum on constitutional amendments and said that with such a constitution Turkey cannot be an EU member," Aktar said.

    He recalled that the negotiating process on Turkey's accession to the EU has actually come to a standstill and that Ankara "does not take more steps towards the EU."

    "Turkey currently does not open new negotiating chapters and it will not open them in the future because Austria openly stated that it is against opening these new chapters and continuing talks on the already open ones. In addition, Turkey has deteriorated relations with almost all institutions within the Council of Europe," Aktar added.

    According to him, "we must understand that Turkish territory is of strategic importance to the West in terms of its relations with Russia."

    "The West now making some concessions to Turkey on a number of issues aims to prevent Turkey from switching to full-fledged cooperation with Russia and prod Ankara to stay in NATO," he said.

    Aktar added that "Turkey is now no longer following the road leading to Europe because it is moving in some other direction," and that "this is neither the Middle East nor the Shanghai Cooperation Organization."

    Earlier this month, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that the reintroduction of the capital punishment in Turkey will mean the end of the EU accession talks. Last month, President Erdogan said that the country may seek to reinstate death penalty as there was public demand for it.

    In another development on March 24, Erdogan made it plain that he will continue to taunt European leaders with "Nazi" jibes, if they continue calling him a "dictator." His unapologetic stance came despite a raft of European leaders condemning the Turkish President of earlier referring to Dutch and German officials as "Nazis".

    Turkey became the candidate for EU membership in 2005. In March 2016, its candidature received a boost as it signed an agreement with the European Union on taking back migrants who arrived illegally in Greece in exchange for financial aid and concessions on visas.

    However, Brussels' relationship with Ankara took a hit in the aftermath of the coup, when the European Union objected to the Turkish government's clampdown on those suspected of ties to the coup organizers.

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    European Union, accession, constitution, referendum, talks, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey
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