Turkish PM likens the ongoing protest wave in Turkey to Brazil demonstrations
After Samsun today, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is set to hold another party rally in eastern Erzurum tomorrow. AA photo
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan likened the ongoing protests in Turkey to the demonstrations in Brazil during a party rally today in the Black Sea city of Samsun, arguing that the same thing was at stake in both countries.
"The same plot is being laid in Brazil. The symbols, the banners, Twitter and the international media are the same. They are doing everything they can to accomplish what they couldn't achieve in Turkey," Erdoğan said during a speech in front of thousands of Justice and Development Party (AKP) supporters. He said the ongoing Gezi Park protests had only benefited to the interest rate lobby. "The purpose is the same [in Brazil]," Erdoğan said.
After Turkey, protests also erupted in Brazil over a hike in transportation fees in the country's biggest metropolis, Sao Paulo, which saw a heavy-handed police response. What had started as small-scale protests took on a national dimension as more than 1 million protesters took to the streets in dozens of cities last week.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff nevertheless praised the protests before vowing reforms yesterday in the fields of fighting against corruption, education and access to public transportation.
The Turkish government had agreed to put the redevelopment plan of Istanbul's central Gezi Park to a referendum after discussions with representatives of the protesters. The plan is currently on hold as a court has suspended the project from being carried out and the ruling on the appeal is awaited.
Addressing the young people who participated en mass in the Gezi Park protests, Erdoğan said they had all been cheated by the interest rate lobby. "You have been used as soldiers by the interest lobbies in a plot that you could not become aware of," he said.
Erdoğan also repeated that both the deadly attack that killed 53 people in the southern province of Reyhanlı, on the border with Syria and the ongoing protests were attempts to sabotage the Kurdish resolution process.
Instruction to clear banners from AKM building
Erdoğan said he had ordered the Atatürk Cultural Center's façade be cleared of banners and posters hung during the second week of the protest. The police's attempt to clear the building and the Atatürk monument in the middle of the square had resulted in an intervention with tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd.
"I was out of the country for three days. It was impossible to tolerate it when I saw it. I said clear [the banners] in 24 hours," Erdoğan said, defending the police's action. "They attacked with paving stones. They opened fire in Mecidiyeköy [district of Istanbul], injuring one of my policemen in his stomach and another one in his feet. Did my policeman open fire? He used tear gas," he said, insisting once again that the use of tear gas was in conformity with the European Union's regulations.
Erdoğan also slammed a woman who had appeared in Taksim Square dressed in a bikini to support the protesters two days ago. "They do it to provoke, they try one's patience," he said.
'Opposition cooperates with those who reject Turkey'
During the rally, Erdoğan criticized once again main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, after the latter wrote a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in which he supported her reaction regarding the Gezi Park protests but pleaded Turkey's accession process to the European Union not be slowed down.
"Kılıçdaroğlu has complained about his own country to German Chancellor Merkel. He is cooperating with those who don't want Turkey in the EU," Erdoğan said.
The ruling AKP had launched a series of rallies last week in response to the Gezi Park protests. After Ankara and Istanbul, Erdoğan pursued the rallies this week in Central Anatolian Kayseri yesterday. Erdoğan is set to hold another rally in eastern Erzurum tomorrow.