Turkish PM’s remarks create rows with EU, US
Turkish riot police officer fires tear gas during clashes with protestors between Taksim and Besiktas in Istanbul on June 3, 2013 during a demonstration against the demolition of Gezi Park. AFP Photo
The U.S. Embassy in Turkey refuted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s remarks on “Occupy Wall Street” death toll on June 7, as a top EU commissioner also voiced dissatisfaction on Ankara’s response to the Gezi Park protests.
The embassy released a statement on its official Twitter account that “Reports related to the U.S. Occupy Wall Street movement are inaccurate. No U.S. deaths resulted from police actions in #OWS.” The tweet came only an hour after Erdoğan said 17 activists were killed in the 2011 protests during a speech where he hit at criticism toward the use of police force during their interventions in the Gezi Park protests.
“Those who try to lecture us, what did they do about the Wall Street incidents? Tear gas, the death of 17 people happened there. What was the reaction?” Erdoğan said, referring to the criticism of the use of police force against the protesters. The initial sit-in protests against Erdoğan’s plan to build Artillery Barracks and a shopping mall on the Gezi Park has sparked anti-government rallies. Erdoğan was defiant in his speech on June 7, eliciting dissatisfaction from EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle.
“Disappointed by the lost opportunity at the #Istanbul conference to reach out to those calling for respect & inclusive dialogue,” Füle wrote on his Twitter account.
Earlier in the day, Füle urged Turkey to investigate whether police used excessive force in a crackdown on days of anti-government demonstrations and hold those responsible to account. “Peaceful demonstrations constitute a legitimate way for ... groups to express their views in a democratic society.”