ANKARA - Anatolia News Agency
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a surprise second meeting on Gezi Park's fate in Ankara on June 13, with a group of 16 representatives of the protesters, including artists and members of the Taksim Solidarity Platform. AA photo
The government will comply with a court decision that suspended the demolition of Gezi Park, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Spokesperson Hüseyin Çelik said in the early hours of June 14. Çelik was speaking after a late night meeting between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
and a delegation of 16 representatives of the protesters in Ankara
that lasted nearly four hours.
Erdoğan held a surprise meeting for a second consecutive day with a new delegation that comprised members of the Taksim Solidarity Platform, which was at the center of the protests since the first day, as well as eight artists who had been outspoken in their support for the demos.
Referring to a court ruling on the suspension of the planned Artillery Barracks project, which was set to be built in the place of Gezi, Çelik said that in the case that the appeal fails, the site will be kept as a park. In the event that the project receives a green light after the appeal the government will organize a referendum regarding Gezi Park’s fate.
“Turkey is a state of law. It is impossible for the executive branch to perform an unlawful act. There is a court decision, the government must conform to it,” he said. Çelik added that the park would be untouched until the court’s decision.
Members of the Taksim Solidarity Platform expressed their satisfaction with the government’s commitment to the court’s decision. “We will react positively to this positive stance,” said the Taksim Platform’s Secretary Tayfun Kahraman. 'Protesters will decide whether to end demos'
Çelik also said the issue of the use of disproportionate force by police was also discussed during the meeting. “They asked for sensitivity on this issue. If it is determined [that an officer] has committed a crime, he will be punished as foreseen by the law,” he said.
During his press briefing, Çelik reiterated his call for the end of protests at Gezi Park: “I address the young people that gathered for the environment: Go back into your warm beds at home.”
For their part, the representatives of the Taksim Platform announced a gathering to commemorate the deaths during the protests in the afternoon hours of June 14, but said they left the decision of ending the demos to the protesters themselves. “All started with a sensitivity about the park. The sensitive people will make their own decisions, the same way that they took action after the [police] violence,” Eyüp Muhçu from the Taksim Platform told reporters.
Eight artists, among them Halit Ergenç, the lead actor from the TV series "Süleyman the Magnificent" and popular singer Sertab Erener, both of whom have been very outspoken in support of the protests, were also among the participants. Poet Sunay Akın, singers Mahsun Kırmızıgül and Yavuz Bingöl, actress Ceyda Düvenci, actor Ali Sunal and producer Nebil Özgentürk also made the trip to Ankara.
Ergenç told reporters on behalf of the artists that the prime minister had listened carefully their concerns and solution proposals. “They assured us that they would not take any steps that were incompatible with the court’s ruling,” he said.
Erdoğan had previously defied the court’s ruling by questioning its impartiality and had insisted that the decision of constructing the historic barracks was irreversible.
However, following meeting with a first delegation on June 12, the government had raised the possibility of organizing a referendum over the demolition of Gezi Park. The demonstrators had initially objected to this proposition, reminding of the court’s ruling that already rendered illegal any attempt to demolish the park.
Erdoğan had also repeated that his patience was running out on June 13, requesting the immediate end of the protest. The group had responded by asking for concrete steps to meet their demands, especially regarding the investigation of those responsible for the heavy police crackdowns in the first days of the protests.