EU slams Ankara over protests, government furious

EU slams Ankara over protests, government furious

EU slams Ankara over protests, government furious

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Ankara ramped up the tension in its showdown with the European Union, following a highly critical European Parliament statement regarding the Turkish government's crackdown on Gezi Park protesters.
While Ankara declared the European Parliament statement “null and void,” a number of EU member states, as well as the United States, also received their share from the Turkish government’s anger.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he would "not recognize" any decision of the European body regarding Turkey.

Addressing his party members yesterday, Erdoğan reminded of the economic crisis that swept Greece recently, which led to large protests lasting for months. “I do not recognize a decision that the European Parliament will make about us. Those who make this decision should first look at Greece. When people and police were confronted in Greece, I wonder if EU officials, even the ‘eurozone’ did anything else other that giving them money,” he said.

“Just yesterday and the day before, in Britain, more than 30 protesters were arrested during the protests against the G-8,” he said. “What did the European Parliament say about Britain, their own member? Right now Turkey is not a member of the EU, it is a negotiator. How come you can make a decision about me? Is this within your limits?” Erdoğan added.

He also criticized Stefan Füle, European Union Commissioner responsible for the enlargement, for the Twitter message in which the commissioner expressed disappointment about the government’s approach to the Gezi Park incidents.

Erdoğan dismissively referred to the commissioner as “That one who is responsible for the expansion of the union.” Referring to a recent joint conference where he met with the EU commissioner in Istanbul, Erdoğan said, “He did not once give me a counter-argument during his time with me, and then exited the room and tweeted.”

The European Parliament had passed a strongly worded proposal against the Turkish government about the recent Gezi protest events.

In a resolution voted on by a show of hands yesterday, the European body expressed concern at the “disproportionate and excessive use of force by Turkish police to break up peaceful and legitimate protests” in Istanbul’s Gezi Park.

It warned against the use of harsh measures against peaceful protesters and said Prime Minister Erdoğan must take a unifying and conciliatory position.

“Those responsible for the police violence must be brought to justice, detained peaceful protestors immediately released and the victims compensated,” European MEPs said.

Call for apology

“While welcoming the moderate response to the protests by President Abdullah Gül and apologies by Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, they deplore the unwillingness of the Turkish government and Mr. Erdoğan to take steps towards reconciliation, to apologize and to understand the reactions of a segment of the Turkish population,” said the resolution.

“The protesters increasingly feel that minority voices lack representation and parts of the Turkish population are dissatisfied with the recent lifestyle regulation. They stress that in an inclusive, pluralistic democracy, the majority has a responsibility to include opposition and civil society in the decision-making process,” European parliamentarians noted.

The holding of peaceful and legitimate protests in itself testifies to the vibrancy of Turkish civil society but Turkey must further improve its democratic institutions, the rule of law and the observance of fundamental freedoms, the MEPs stated.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said the EP’s resolution would be returned by Turkey’s Permanent representative to the EU.

He drew a parallel between international media and the EP, saying they adopted an “orientalist attitude.”

Holding a press conference yesterday, Davutoğlu expressed unease over recent U.S. statements on Gezi Park incidents at which Washington voiced concern.

“If they have not stated ‘concern’ for incidents in other countries, if they have hinted in a statement that Turkey was going through an unpredictable process, if the word ‘concern’ was not used for French democracy in incidents in France in 2005 when fire broke out in the suburbs, then they cannot use it for Turkish democracy either. Whoever uses, will get the reply,” said Davutoğlu.

Turkey does not take any lesson from any country, and does not accept any manipulation, the minister said adding, “Yet, we are ready to discuss about democratic standards with other states, but at that time we’ll also have many issues to talk about.”

Turkey would not allow “image operations which aims at harming its rising profile,” the minister noted.
The EP applied “double standards, as the EU had done so far,” the minister stated, adding that the European body had not made any statements on demonstrations taking place in other states.

Following the prime minister’s slamming of the EP, Turkey’s European Affairs Ministry and Foreign Ministry released consecutive press statements criticizing the European Parliament’s attitude, and accused the Parliament of “getting excited in the heat of the moment.”

“Some Parliaments should understand that there is a price for talking so freely and boldly about Turkey’s domestic affairs. They should not be fooled by manipulations and slander and be part of dirty plans both national and international,” a written statement from the ministry said.

“Turkey is a democratic, secular state of law that knows fully how to govern within its own democratic tradition. I hope that they have calculated the price of getting excited in the heat of the moment and target not just our government but the Turkish Republic as well,” the statement added.