Turkish FM Davutoğlu denies praising Gezi Park protests
WASHINGTON – Anadolu Agency
The Gezi Park protests erupted at the end of May against a controversial redevelopment plan at the heart of Istanbul. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜRELForeign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has denied that he praised the Gezi Park protests during a meeting with U.S. officials at the Brookings Institute in Washington D.C.
Davutoğlu posted on his Twitter account that he did not say he felt proud of the Gezi Park protests, but noted Turkey’s democracy after a question comparing the Gezi protests to those in the Middle East.
“I see that my speech at Brookings has caused different evaluations in Turkey. I said the same things that I said before following the Gezi protests, both in the country and abroad,” he wrote.
“I didn’t use an expression such as ‘I feel proud of Gezi’ as the headlines say. I pointed to the position where democracy in Turkey has come, after a question comparing the Gezi protests to ones in the Middle East,” Davutoğlu added.
“Turkey is not behind any country regarding freedom of expression and freedom of the press. The thing I feel proud of is not the Gezi protests, but catching up with European standards about these subjects in Turkey. Nobody should assign different meanings to my speech,” the foreign minister also said.
In a Nov. 19 meeting at the Brookings Institute in Washington D.C., where Davutoğlu first met U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, he had stressed the comparison between Turkey and European countries. “The right to protest in Turkey, for example, the Gezi Park protests, can only be compared to rights in European countries, not Middle Eastern countries,” he said.
“Nobody can compare Turkey to those countries where there is no freedom of the press, freedom of thought, freedom of association, and free and fair elections. We are proud that these demonstrations, such as Gezi, are similar to demonstrations in Europe … You can compare the right to demonstrate in Turkey, and the events in Gezi Park, for example, only with European countries,” Davutoğlu said.
The Gezi Park protests erupted at the end of May against a controversial redevelopment plan at the heart of Istanbul, and were dealt with by the government through the use of excessive police force. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused protesters of seeking to undemocratically topple the government.
The attempt to save the last green area in Taksim Square quickly evolved into the biggest turmoil in Turkey’s recent history, with months of related protests across the country. The protests resulted in the deaths of five protesters and a police officer, and thousands injured.