EU-Turkey ties hang in referendum balanceView(s):
The future of badly strained EU-Turkey relations hangs in the balance Sunday when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asks voters to give him increased powers that opponents say will lead to authoritarian rule. Ties with the European Union are a key issue for Turks long-promised membership of the bloc and Erdogan has rounded savagely on Brussels at the slightest criticism of his actions.
Analysts say Erdogan’s stinging rhetoric is meant to appeal to Turkish nationalists whose votes will be crucial in Sunday’s referendum which looks too close to call. The hopeful flip side is that he is at heart a pragmatist who will come to terms with the EU when the dust settles. For the moment however, things are about as bad as they get.
At the same time, analysts said, the EU and strategically-placed Turkey still had many shared interests as major trading and investment partners. If Ankara has opened a door to Moscow, it also remains a key NATO ally at a time when EU leaders are trying to come to terms with a more assertive Russia and the prospect of life without Britain, up to now the bloc’s most powerful military member state.
Turkey has also provided safe haven for nearly three million Syrian refugees and a key March 2016 accord has helped stem massive migrant inflows into the EU.
BRUSSELS, April13 (AFP)Â