Speaking in a live interview with TV channels in Istanbul, Erdogan said Turkey would sit at the negotiating table with the European Union for a concrete answer on Ankara’s EU membership bid.

“My people’s answer on Sunday will not only be national but at the same time will be international,” Erdogan said.

Turkey applied for membership of the EU in 1987; accession talks began in 2005.

However, negotiations reached a stalemate in 2007. The German and French governments have opposed full EU membership for Turkey.

To gain membership, Turkey has to successfully conclude negotiations with the EU in 35 policy chapters which involve reforms and the adoption of European standards.

Erdogan added that Turkey would see an economic leap, if the referendum ends in a Yes result “because the shackles on Turkey’s hand would be broken”.

On Sunday, Turkish voters will be asked to vote Yes or No to an 18-article constitutional reform bill which would shift the country from a parliamentary system of governance to a presidential one.

The Yes campaign is backed by the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), while the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has argued against the changes.

Erdogan said that Turkey was going to vote for a new governmental system.

“We are talking about a new government system…. There is no regime change in Turkey,” he said.

The Turkish leader said the discussion on regime change ended in 1923, when Mustafa Kemal Ataturk established modern Turkey as a republic.

“We are mortal. We are here today and will be gone tomorrow…. Now, the important [thing] is the system. We are not talking about persons, we are talking about the system. If you build a country on mortal things, it will fail. So, let’s establish an everlasting system,” said Erdogan.

On the ongoing state of emergency announced after a failed coup attempt last year and extended several times, Erdogan signaled it could be extended for a third time.

Anadolu Agency