Turkish PM hints visit to Gezi Park ‘sometime soon,’ slams outlawed groups

Turkish PM hints visit to Gezi Park ‘sometime soon,’ slams outlawed groups

ISTANBUL - Anadolu Agency
Turkish PM hints visit to Gezi Park ‘sometime soon,’ slams outlawed groups

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks during his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) fast-breaking dinner in Istanbul on July 21. AA photo

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has once again accused outlawed terrorist groups of using the Gezi Park protests to foment discord in Turkish society, while surprisingly hinting that he could visit  the park “sometime soon.”

Referring to hate speech graffiti saying “Death to Alevis,” which had appeared on walls and doors in an Ankara neighborhood, Erdoğan said the perpetrators had been identified by the police as members of a “terrorist group.”

“There are attempts to lay plots. The police are following the question very sensitively. [They have discovered] that those who wrote this graffiti are members of a deadly terror organization and are also members of that confession [Alevism] that they threatened with death. Such plots are laid everywhere in Turkey,” he said during his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) fast-breaking dinner in Istanbul on July 21.

The prime minister also criticized the couple who attempted to hold their wedding at Gezi Park as a tribute to the fact that they met during the protests. In the end, the couple was only able to take pictures after police blocked access to the park ahead of their planned ceremony.

“It was seen that behind [those who went to Gezi Park] for the wedding were members of a terrorist organization, people wearing black masks. Why are you setting the ground for such things? Is it necessary?" Erdoğan asked, calling on people not to fall into such “traps.”

He also mentioned a nighttime visit he made to a park in front of his house in Istanbul's Üsküdar district on the Asian side, hinting that he could make a similar visit to Gezi Park in the coming days.

“Last night I chatted with our citizens in a park in Üsküdar. Hopefully sometime soon we will organize such a chat at Gezi Park. I passed the best days of my youth there. When I was mayor, I used to perform three or four marriages there every month, as Beyoğlu's marriage office was there,” he said.

Presidential system is not a red line

Erdoğan also referred to Parliament’s ongoing Constitution-making initiative, and emphasized that transitioning to a presidential system was not one of the AKP’s red lines. However, he lashed out at the opposition’s insistence that the idea be abandoned before they agree to pass the 48 articles upon which all four parties have reached a consensus.

“They persist, saying ‘give up on the presidential system.’ This is not our prerequisite. If you have red lines, we are making a proposition, we aren’t putting it as a condition. We are even afraid of discussing certain propositions,” Erdoğan said, referring to the fact that the main opposition considered it their own “red line” to change the first three articles of the Constitution, which define, among other things, Turkey’s official language. 

“The problem is who says it. If Tayyip Erdoğan says it, it is wrong. If someone among them says it, it is right,” he said.

Erdoğan also sought to address the criticisms that the government had meddled with people’s lifestyles, describing the accusations as “saddening.” For 10 years, no one has meddled with anybody’s lifestyle and no one will do so now. When I became mayor, they were even saying ‘They will come and separate the buses for veiled and unveiled [women],’” he said. 

He also repeated his argument that the minority should not “exert domination” over the majority. “Being the majority does not mean ignoring the minority. It does not give this right to anyone. However the minority cannot attempt to dominate the majority with its capital power, media power, propaganda power and international power,” Erdoğan said.

A number of businessmen, artists and former athletes were attending the traditional iftar, which is organized every year by the AKP’s Istanbul branch.