Turkey is going through a period of normalization: PM Erdoğan

Turkey is going through a period of normalization: PM Erdoğan

Turkey is going through a period of normalization: PM Erdoğan

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks during Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) 21st consultation and assessment conference in Ankara’s resort town of Kızılcahamam Nov. 2

Turkey is going through a period of normalization after the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) latest set of reform packages, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, while dismissing allegations that society was becoming more polarized.

“We are not targeting anybody’s lifestyle in lifting constraints on our common religious and spiritual values, [on the contrary] we are easing the lives of citizens whose lifestyles had been restricted. What is normal is not banning a language, but that each language can be freely spoken,” Erdoğan said during the AKP’s biannual consultation and assessment conference in Ankara’s resort town of Kızılcahamam Nov. 2.

“ Turkey is now going through a period of normalization,” he said.

Erdoğan described the fact that female lawmakers could not attend Parliament sessions wearing headscarves until last week as “strange.” “So what happened? Love and solidarity have been crowned. There are no problems between [those female lawmakers] who wear and do not wear headscarves. The problems originated from the decision-makers,” Erdoğan said, slamming the criticisms against AKP’s policies.

“The concepts that some circles want to put in Turkey’s agenda are concepts that aim to weaken democracy. Concepts such as dictatorship, polarization, neighborhood pressure, interference in one's lifestyle. They are trying to transform every step towards normalization into a fear scenario,” Erdoğan said.

'Prayer service at Marmaray opening should not cause discomfort’

Erdoğan also commented about the opening of the Marmaray railway, which now connects both sides of Istanbul from deep under the Bosphorus, during Republic Day earlier this week. Officials participating in the ceremony prayed together as part of the ceremony, including the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was seen imitating his Turkish hosts. The incident triggered many debates in the Turkish press and on social media websites.

“Why does the Marmaray’s opening with prayers bother you so much when this country’s first Parliament was opened with prayers, with the attendance of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk,” Erdoğan said, noting that the national anthem also had a stanza which referred to a prayer.

“While [the opposition] sings the Republic’s 10th anniversary anthem, we are offering Marmaray as part of the republic's 90th anniversary and talking about the centenary goals. Those who have always sang the 10th anniversary anthem - how much railway have you built? None,” Erdoğan said.

Resistance to attemps of solving on terrorism

Erdoğan also lamented that the government was facing unprecedented resistance in its attempts to resolve terrorism. “We haven’t witnessed similar resistance in any other issue than this terror issue. There is a very particular resistance both inside and outside Turkey. But we have never been hopeless,” he said, adding that the government was ready to bring the Kurdish resolution process initiated some 10 months ago to its conclusion.

“Our intention is clear: We want violence and weapons to disappear, and politics to come into play.”

Erdoğan also commented on AKP’s  candidate lists in preparation for the coming March 2014 local elections. He said that the candidates will not be chosen solely based on tendency surveys, anticipating a “door-to-door campaign.”

AKP’s last gathering prior to the elections is set to last two days and critical decisions are expected to be taken regarding the possible candidates in key electoral battlegrounds.