German Greens co-chair Özdemir visits Gezi Park, praises community
ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency
Cem Özdemir praised the protesters and described the movement as 'European'. AA photoTaksim Gezi Park, which is quickly becoming a micro-community, received today German Green Party co-chair Cem Özdemir, who labeled the ongoing wave of protests in Turkey as "European" and praised the young people for their "modernity." He added that he was following the movement with admiration while criticizing Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for not backing down on a plan to convert the small patch of green in the center of Istanbul into a leisure complex inside what will stand as the reproduction of the old Ottoman Artillery Barracks.
"The issue of trees is not unsolvable. But this is solved with debate, not calling the citizens 'marauders' or insulting them," Özdemir said, adding that Erdoğan has managed to reconcile everyone, including the arch-foe fans of Istanbul’s three big football clubs.
Özdemir also emphasized that blocking Turkey's accession process to the European Union would mean rewarding the police for their violence. "What needs to be done is the opposite. The initiative of the civil society here is entirely European," he said, adding that some European politicians used the vent as an excuse to argue that Turkey could not be a member of the EU. "We can't punish civil society," he said.
Özdemir took several pictures of the park and chatted with a number of protesters.