ANKARA – A meeting last week between EU leaders and Pope Francis in the Vatican is evidence that Europe’s most important union is a “Crusader Alliance” and was consequently avoiding admitting Turkey as a full member, Turkey’s dictator has said, declaring that the upcoming referendum on charter changes will also stand as a vote on Ankara’s ties with Brussels.
“All the leaders of the EU countries went to the Vatican and listened to the pope submissively. Do you now understand why they have not been taking Turkey into the EU for 54 years? The situation is quite loud and clear, it is a Crusader Alliance. April 16 will also be the day to evaluate this,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said at a rally in Ankara on April 2.
Erdoğan referred to a meeting between Francis and the leaders of all EU countries on March 24, a day before a special summit marking the 60th anniversary of the bloc’s founding treaty. Francis addressed EU leaders and delivered messages on the future of the union.
“I turned out to be right on what I have been saying [about the EU],” Erdoğan said. “They have been lying to us in a row for 14 years. And they keep on lying.”
Turkey will go to a referendum on April 16 to decide on an 18-article constitutional amendment package that will overhaul the entire governance system into an executive presidency model that abolishes the office of the prime minister.
A tension between Turkey and a number of European countries was sparked after some Turkish ministers’ attempts to stage rallies with the Turkish community in European countries was blocked. The row between the two sides was further fueled by a report issued by the Venice Commission suggesting that the proposed system will further weaken democratic order in Turkey.
Frequently giving references from Quranic verses, Erdoğan was often interrupted by chants from the public.
“You are saying ‘Europe, Europe hear our voices’ quite often. I am saying, ‘Come and see Ankara,” Erdoğan said, decrying opposition to the constitutional amendment.
“You cannot fool my nation by conducting ‘no’ campaigns on the corners of coffeeshops. With God’s will, are you ready to give the necessary answer to the European leaders, except some?” he addressed to the public.
Stating that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had been planning a shift to a presidential system prior to the 2014 presidential elections, Erdoğan argued that the plans were interrupted by “attacks.”
“We have faced such attacks since 2013 that we could not even make the agenda. With the Gezi Protests and Dec. 17 and 25 police-justice coup [both in 2013], and then the subsequent elections,” he said.
‘Yes’ and ‘no’ voters both respectful
Erdoğan also took umbrage with the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) criticism that the campaign rhetoric of the ruling party has consistently equated naysayers with terrorists.
“Why are you lying, Kılıçdaroğlu?” Erdoğan said, addressing the leader of the CHP, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
“Our nation’s will is the most respected place for us. Naysayers are as respected as yeasayers,” he said.
Despite the CHP’s denial on the subject, Erdoğan once more suggested that if the “no” side prevails in the upcoming referendum, the opposition will question the legitimacy of the presidential post.
“You should not take the words of the main opposition which states that nothing will change in the event of the victory of the ‘no’ votes into account. They are also lying about that,” he said.
“Remember what they had said after the June 7  elections. They said that they prevented a civil coup.
They said that the legitimacy of the presidential post has become questionable. They barked for instability,” he said.
Source: Hurriyet Daily News