On the eve of Turkey's referendum, Erdogan turns his back on the EU

On Sunday, the people of Turkey go to the polls to make a decision on a referendum that we’ve been discussing here for quite some time now. They will either approve or shoot down sweeping changes to their nation’s constitution which will hand vastly increased executive power to aspiring tyrant President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, essentially setting him up to be president for life. The one, distant hope which other western nations were hanging onto was the threat that Turkey’s bid to become members of the EU would go up in flames if they go down this path and it might temper their decision. That hope seemed to be entirely dashed this week when Erdogan’s chief adviser basically came out and said that they weren’t really all that interested anyway. (Express UK)

The EU has promised Turkey EU membership for decades, and has recently offered to fast-track the Islamic republic’s application in a bid to convince president Erdogan regime to keep three million migrants from travelling to Europe.

But speaking on Newsnight, Mr Erdogan’s chief adviser has claimed the Turkish government are having second thoughts about joining the bloc following Brexit.

Asked by Evan Davis if Turkey was concerned their bid to become an EU member state was fading into the distance, Ilnur Cevik said: “Not really, because we are not sure where the EU is going anyway.

The complaints being raised by Cevik certainly sound as if they are designed to be a diplomatic preemptive strike to take the teeth out of any threats the EU might make before they arise. He was basically accusing the Europeans of not acting in good faith over a period of decades, saying that Turkey had been, “treated like beggars” standing at the door. As far as any possible future efforts to bring them into the union he asked, “‘is it really worth all the effort?’”

So how will the vote go on Sunday? That’s tough for anyone to say at this point. Polling coming out of Turkey has been suspect of late to put it mildly, even more so since last summer’s coup attempt. It’s also unknown how well informed the citizens of Turkey are about all the implications of this vote. Erdogan shut down all news media outlets in the country except for those directly printing and airing propaganda for the state. Social media may be getting the word out in some quarters, but people are understandably hesitant to speak much about it in public, knowing how many thousands of “enemies” their president has already locked up.

If things go as Erdogan is predicting, this could well be the beginning of the end of true democracy in Turkey. Once the president locks up virtually absolute executive power with the ability to stay in office for decades and most likely institutes the death penalty again, most essential freedoms in Turkey will be a thing of the past. His recent coziness with Russia, Iran and North Korea should give us a pretty good idea where this nation is heading. And that’s a crying shame because they had come so close to being a truly reformed, westernized nation, not to mention being a potent military force in a dangerously unstable region. But for now it seems that all we can do is sit and watch.

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