Turkish PM shelves mall plan on Gezi Park, wants end to protests

Turkish PM shelves mall plan on Gezi Park, wants end to protests

Turkish PM shelves mall plan on Gezi Park, wants end to protests

Prime Minister Erdoğan said on his arrival to Turkey from a North Africa trip that ‘protests that have turned into vandalism’ should come to an end. AP photo

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan dismissed plans to build a shopping mall at the controversial Gezi Park while calling for an end to more than 10-day protests during his speech at the Ministry of European Affairs Istanbul conference on June 7.

Erdoğan repeated willingness to discuss “democratic rights,” saying, “The shopping mall is not possible in the Artillery Barracks anyway, given the measures. We told them that we may build a city museum instead, and a green area that would be far better than the current park. We also wanted to turn the Atatürk Culture Center to an opera building.”

The prime minister, who bids to rebuild the historic barracks there, called for an end to ongoing Gezi Park protests on his return from a four-day trip to North Africa in the early hours of June 7. “These protests must end immediately,” Erdoğan said today in front of thousands of Justice and Development Party (AKP) supporters who greeted him at Istanbul’s Atatürk airport. “No power but Allah can stop Turkey’s rise,” he said.

Thousands flocked to the airport to greet Erdoğan in a show of solidarity with the country’s most influential politician over the Gezi Park protests that have shaken Turkey.

“The police are doing their duty. These protests, which have turned into vandalism and utter lawlessness must end immediately,” Erdoğan told the crowd.

“May Allah preserve our fraternity and unity. We will have nothing to do with fighting and vandalism...The secret to our success is not tension and polarization.” “God is Great,” his supporters chanted, and soon moved on to slogans referring specifically to the protesters in Taksim Square. “Let us go, let us crush them,” they shouted. “Istanbul is here, where are the looters?”

Speaking at the June 7 conference with a large group of foreign guests, Erdoğan said the events that had unfolded “with the excuse of Gezi” had been subjected to “horrible disinformation.”

“Social media has bred terrible campaigns of lies,” Erdoğan said. “I know every one of [the sources]. You have to know who to address in these situations, and this one has no one for me.”

“It makes you wonder what the function of their parliamentary counterparts is,” Erdoğan added. He further accused “a certain part of those at the Gezi protests” of wanting to hamper the ongoing peace process, adding that the European Union was also at fault in supporting such demonstrations.

“On one side you say you support the peace process, then you go ahead and support these people who wish to intervene with the process,” Erdoğan said.

The prime minister also targeted the foreign media during his speech, accusing the foreign outlets of “serving stories to placed orders with ideological approaches,” with his critique especially focusing on the recent full-page ad placed by Gezi supporters on the pages of The New York Times.