ANKARA / CAIRO
"The crisis in Egypt is a test on democracy for the West," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Aug.15 at Ankara’s Esenboğa Airport before departing for a visit to Turkmenistan. Daily News Photo/Selahattin Sönmez
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
slammed the West for failing to stop the bloodshed in Egypt, while reiterating Ankara’s earlier call for the U.N. Security Council to convene quickly as the death toll from Aug. 14’s crackdown rose over 500.
“If the West wants to pass the democracy test, it has to understand this. But if it is on the point of losing the democracy test or if it has decided on a process such as questioning democracy, then that is another matter. As a matter of fact, if Western countries do not act sincerely on this issue … I believe that democracy will start to be questioned throughout the world,” Erdoğan told reporters
Aug. 15 ahead of his departure for a working visit to Turkmenistan.
The death toll, which stood at 525 on Thursday but was expected to rise, according to the latest Egyptian Health Ministry figures, makes Aug. 14 by far the deadliest day since the 2011 popular uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak.
A declaration of a state of emergency will not solve anything, Erdoğan said. “I believe that the people who believe in martyrdom will win their democratic rights in Egypt sooner or later.”
The United Nations, the United States and other powers have stopped short of denouncing Morsi’s overthrow as a military coup.
Erdoğan also lashed out at the opposition over the North African country. “I look at the opposition in my country; the opposition has been making nonsense statements such as ‘The government can take much different steps on the Egypt problem, and we could have been active here,’ thinking, ‘How can we collect votes?’ over Egypt. At least be sincere on this, so that we can discuss what we can do in common,” Erdoğan said.
“Because whatever you do, you have not been able to attain anything until today. You could not corner the AKP [Justice and Development Party] government. You have taken very different routes and wanted to hit the AKP government through non-democratic ways. You have done this since we came; you have been doing this for 10 years. But the citizens of the Republic of Turkey, my dear people, have never allowed this. There, we had seven elections, now we are entering the eighth one. The public surveys are out there. We have had three general elections, two local elections, two referenda, they are all out there. Despite all this, there is a structure in an effort, a pursuit of ‘I wonder what illegality will bring us.’”
Erdoğan said he had talked to world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, Russian
President Vladimir Putin, German
Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, as well as United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, about the situation in Egypt.
Erdoğan also called for an urgent U.N. Security Council meeting. “The Security Council of the United Nations should convene quickly to discuss the situation in Egypt,” Erdoğan said. “This is a very serious massacre ... against the Egyptian people who were only protesting peacefully,” he said, criticizing “the silence” of the global community in the face of the bloodshed.
Meanwhile, Erdoğan maintained that there was a constant attempt to entrap the Islamic world, including his own country. “These traps exist for us, too … Therefore, let us not forget that nobody wants a strong Turkey. Therefore, we have to be strong. First, we have to love each other. We have to be in solidarity. Therefore, we will keep our nose to the grindstone, work and God willing build a strong Turkey in this way,” Erdoğan said.
On the ground, angry supporters of Egypt’s ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, stormed and torched two buildings housing the local government in Giza, the city next to Cairo that is home to the famed pyramids. The Giza government offices are located on the Pyramids Road on the west bank of the River Nile.
State TV blamed supporters of Morsi for the fire. Its footage shows both structures burning with firefighters evacuating employees from the larger building. A spokesman from the Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails, said the movement and its allies suffered a strong blow from the state security crackdown, that their central coordination had been lost and that the bloodshed meant their anger was now “beyond control.”