Turkish PM urges protesters to "see big picture"
Turkish Premier Erdogan said environmental concerns are disguise for illegal rebellion against democratic regime
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Tuesday on the Gezi Park protesters to understand the circumstances surrounding the recent anti-government demonstrations that grew out of the environmental concerns of a small group of people but later turned violent.
"I invite all the demonstrators to see the big picture, understand the games that are being played on them," said Erdogan at the caucus of his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party in the country's capital, Ankara. "And I urge those who are sincere to leave the park and end protests. I expect this from them as their Prime Minister."
"Gezi Park, as befits the name, is a park for walking, not a field for occupation," he said.
Turkish Prime Minister said his party had never been at odds with or in defiance of different sections of society.
"We will not push anyone aside by ignoring their sensitivities, just as we have never done before. We will keep on empathizing with them, listening to their democratic demands as we have until now."
It was incumbent upon his government to ensure the security of lives, property, minds, generations and faiths in the society, Erdogan said. "We will continue protecting our nation as we did in the past ten and a half years against provocations and we will neither impose anything on anyone, nor accept anyone's impositions," he said.
Erdogan also touched upon the claims protesters drank alcohol in a mosque: "You went into the Bezm-i Alem Valide Sultan Mosque with shoes on, and drank there. You committed this act of disrespect against the places of worship in this country. In the name of what? In the name of environment. Then you threatened the mosque official to speak misleadingly, and made him say nothing of this sort happened. What are you talking about? We have the video recordings. We will reveal all of them to the public on Friday. Everyone will see."
- Environmentalism "a camouflage"
Erdogan maintained the protests were exploited by groups with extremist or terrorist intentions.
"Environmental sensitivity has turned into protests of a different nature and it aims to camouflage an illegal rebellion against the democratic regime," he said.
The Prime Minister added: "During the incidents, the bride of one of my relatives with her 6 month-old baby was dragged on the ground and harassed near the Prime Minister's office. Could this have anything to do with the fight for freedom? Is this freedom? However, we've always said 'patience, patience, patience'."
Referring to the comparison drawn between Occupy Wall Street protests and Gezi Park demonstrations, Erdogan said: "At Wall Street, people demonstrated against the billions of dollars that the interest-rate lobbies there gained without any effort. Here, people are serving the interest-rate lobby under the guise of socialism. That's the difference."
- "A strong government is in power"
Erdogan said AK Party was ready to engage the issue fully with all its ramifications, and prevent it from causing more damage to the country.
Turkish economy has been hurt seriously by the protests, with markets down more than ten percent and Turkish lira depreciating sizably against the euro and US dollar.
"No one should feel intimidated in the face of those who wreak havoc, the marginal, the extremists and those who act illegally. They come and go," Erdogan said. "A very strong government is in power, a government that can overcome these problems and bring into line through democratic ways those who exceed the limits."
"We will not only reach closure on these events, we will also continue to be hard on the trail of these provocateurs and terrorists," he said. "No one will be able to get away with what they do. We will bring to account those who unjustly criticize, try to harm, attack or even kill our police officers."
- Reyhanli attacks
Turkish Premier Erdogan also said a main suspect in May 11 Reyhanli twin bombings had been arrested.
"Nasir Eskiocak, who took part at every stage of the crime and provided logistics and communications support for the drivers of the explosive-laden vehicles, has been arrested through the commendable work of our police, gendarmerie and intelligence units on June 10, Monday night at 10.30 p.m. in Yayladagi town of Hatay."