Turkish gov’t delays Gezi plans, aiming at ending protests
PM Erdoğan says he will wait for the legal process to be completed in the Gezi Park case. DAILY NEWS photo / Selahattin SÖNMEZPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reiterated his appeal for protesters to withdraw from the streets, while affirming that the government will be sticking to the judicial decision about the fate of Gezi Park.
Erdoğan announced that his government would respect the judicial proceeding concerning the fate of Gezi Park, while delivering a speech at an expanded meeting of provincial chairs of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on June 14.
“Is there a judicial decision now? There is. We will wait for the judicial decision, we will be following it,” Erdoğan said on two pending cases that the judiciary had yet to decide upon. However, in the event of a green light coming from the court, he stated that a “plebiscite” would be held through Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. “Would a dictator go for a popular vote?” Erdoğan added, as an answer to the famous chant of “Dictator resign” during protests.
“Youngsters look, you have stayed here as much as you could, you gave your message. If their message is about Taksim Gezi Park, their message has been received and evaluated,” Erdoğan said, while once more calling on the protesters to withdraw from Gezi.
Much like his speech on June 13, Erdoğan repeated his call saying “Withdraw from Gezi Park now, go home. If there are still some left from illegal organizations, leave us alone with them.”
However, his tone remained aggressive. “They should not urge us to resort to different measures,” he said, while maintaining that he was hoping the Gezi protests would come to an end as of that day. “I am hoping that this will be over today.”
Once again resorting to his distinction between well-intentioned and ill-intentioned protesters, Erdoğan argued that Gezi Park was used as an excuse by some organizations. “There is an open-air theater established with the pretext of Taksim Gezi Park. In front of the theater, there are really innocent people. We have sincere youngsters with environmental sensitivity,” Erdoğan said. “With those people, there are ill-intended people, opportunists that are ready and equipped to provoke events. These are illegal organizations. These are people intertwined with terrorist organizations,” he said, arguing that everybody was turning a blind eye to what was going on behind the scenes. “Gezi Park is an instrument used in this.”
The government will comply with a court decision, AKP Spokesperson Hüseyin Çelik also said in the early hours of June 14.
Çelik was speaking after a late night meeting between Erdoğan and a delegation of 16 representatives of the protesters in Ankara that lasted nearly four hours.
Erdoğan held a surprise meeting for a second consecutive day with a new delegation that comprised members of the Taksim Solidarity Platform, which was at the center of the protests since the first day, as well as eight artists who had been outspoken in their support for the demos.
Members of the Taksim Solidarity Platform expressed their satisfaction with the government’s commitment to the court’s decision. “We will react positively to this positive stance,” said Taksim Platform’s Secretary Tayfun Kahraman.
Istanbul Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu also came together with young protesters at midnight June 13, in an informal meeting at a café on the shores of the Bosphorus in Dolmabahçe, a neighborhood that was the center of violent clashes two weeks ago.
Mutlu, much criticized after the police’s disproportionate use of force in violent raids on Gezi Park, had given an appointment a few hours before via his Twitter account to young people who started the demos with a “sincere sensibility” for the environment for a tête-à-tête chat. Mutlu had also shared his personal cell phone number and called on people at Gezi Park “not to hesitate” to give him a ring.