Turkey's EU entry 'not on the agenda', says Italy

Indo Asian News Service

Rome, April 18 (IANS/AKI) Turkey's accession to the European Union is "not on the agenda", Italy's Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said on Tuesday in wake of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's victory in a referendum that gave him sweeping new powers.

"Turkey's entrance to the EU is not on the agenda," Alfano told Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

In Sunday's referendum, Turkish electors voted 51.4 per cent in favour of constitutional changes that will turn Turkey into a presidential republic similar to the United States and France could enable Erdogan to stay in power until 2029.

After the result, Erdogan said he would reintroduce the death penalty if it was backed in a referendum or a bill was submitted to him through parliament, a move the EU says would put paid to Turkey's long-stalled negotiations to join the bloc.

"Any decision to reintroduce the death penalty would take Turkey further away (from joining the EU)," said Alfano.

Erdogan also said after his victory on Sunday that Turkey could hold a referendum on its EU membership bid.

But Alfano warned against isolating Turkey over the referendum result, which international monitors and the Turkish bar association have called into question and which European leaders say exposes deep splits in Turkish society.

Lying between East and West, Turkey has a "crucial" role to play in the fight against terrorism and in military security cooperation, Alfano said.

"I hear calls to isolate Turkey.

"But quite simply, this is not in our interests. We need to be realistic," he said.