'Patience has its limits,' Turkish PM Erdoğan tells Taksim Gezi Park demonstrators
Supporters of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wait at Esenboğa Airport for his arrival in Ankara on June 9. AFP photo
Patience has its limits, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in an inflexible speech during a rally at Ankara's Esenboğa Airport on his return to the Turkish capital June 9.
"Don't you see this? How can you attack my police? There are those who side with those swearing against the prime minister of this country. We are going to show patience, but patience has a limit as well. Those who hide behind the protestors should first learn what politics is," Erdoğan said, without giving any sign of concession on his plans to redevelop Taksim Square after the demolition of Gezi Park. During a later speech, Erdoğan asked the protesters once again to stop the demonstrations, adding that the government’s patience was running out. "If you have a problem you can choose your representatives and convey them to my mayor, my governor or myself. But if you continue like this, I will be obliged to speak in a language that you understand. We will respond accordingly."
Erdoğan held other two rallies earlier in the day, in Adana and Mersin, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. After holding a rally at the Esenboğa airport on his arrival to Ankara, he also spoke at several rally points where hundreds were gathered to greet him.
His ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has scheduled counter-rallies next weekend in Ankara and Istanbul in a bid to fight back against the demonstrations over the demolition of Gezi Park, which have turned into a movement demanding more individual freedoms from the government.
"Are the people only those at Gezi Park? Aren't those who came to meet us at the Istanbul airport the people too? Those who are gathered now in Ankara; aren't they the people, too? Let the country see the real picture of Ankara and not of those who terrorized Ankara," Erdoğan said during his speech at the airport, calling on the protesters to face off in local elections next year. "Instead of [occupying] Gezi Park or Kuğulu Park [in Ankara], there are seven months [until the elections]. Be patient and let's face off at the ballot box."
Erdoğan also continued to claim that protesters were engaged in vandalism. “Rights and freedoms are not achieved with violence but within the law,” he said.
The Turkish prime minister said freedoms had been widened under the AKP government as under no party before. "Those [protesters] fear freedom of thought. Why? Because they have no thought. We don't fear it. In all of the republic's history in terms of freedoms of thought and belief no other government has brought what our government has," he said, adding that he would not allow another coup to take place. "Everybody should know that today is not May 27, 1960. Today is not September 12, 1980. It is not February 28, 1997," he said, listing the dates of military interventions that had led to the fall of the government.
Interest lobby 'to pay a heavy price'
Erdoğan has slammed once again the interest lobby, holding it as one of the parties responsible for the current demonstrations. "The interest lobby should better behave itself. This lobby exploited my people for years. We have shown patience for a long time. I am not saying this only for one bank or two but for all whoever making this lobby. Those who have started this fight against us, you will pay the price heavily."
"Those who tried to let the stock exchange collapse: Tayyip Erdoğan has no money there, if it collapses you will also collapse with it. The moment we discover stock exchange speculation, we will ram it down your throat," he also said.
Erdoğan also did not back down from his negative portrait of protesters, saying they had entered a mosque with beer bottles in their hands and attacked women wearing veils, as had been reported especially on social media over the last week. "They have entered the Dolmabahçe Mosque with their beer bottles and their shoes on. They have insulted my headscarf-wearing daughters and sisters. And they haven't stopped at that," he said.
"They were upset when I used the term 'marauder' [çapulcu in Turkish]. If they are so upset they should look in the dictionary and see who is called a marauder. If they look at it, they will see how accurate the term the prime minister has used is. And those who support them also belong to this type." he said.
Second airport speech
Thousands gathered at the Ankara airport hours before Erdoğan's return to the Turkish capital from a long series of visits in North Africa and inside Turkey. Erdoğan had also held a similar rally at the Istanbul airport in the early hours of June 7 at his arrival at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport, addressing another massive and excited crowd. Erdoğan had said a week ago, before his foreign trip, that they were 50 percent of the population he was struggling to "retain home," defying the protesters in Gezi Park.