PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan talked about the events in Turkey on the last day of his visit to Tunisia. He said the Topcu Barrack [on Gezi Park] will be built and that protestors are damaging public’s buses and pavement stones. He gave the following answers to the questions in his press conference.
Q: Do you support your Deputy Bülent Arınç’s statement yesterday?
[translator’s note: we can loosely say that BA had apologised for the violence]
A: My deputy has done what’s necessary. What we say is clear. We conduct politics on the basis that we will not humour these nor deceive. All actions progress in this context. But they say these things. It’s not necessary to get into this kind of a race. Government cannot be managed by the logic of give and take. Is there a Topcu Barracks there or not? We are not promising something that wasn’t there….We are rebuilding what was there. We want to repeat a fantastic architectural asset. Wherever you go in the world, such historial sites are rebuilt and people would be proud of this. Why are they opposing it because the AKP government is doing this? We had shown it to Istanbul as a new innovative project with animations. They don’t mention this at all. They now do these things. We will work with the same environmental consciousness in Taksim. Environment is a holistic thing, not just a tree. They are pulling the roads, pavement stones. We need to investigate the damage done to people’s buses and bus stops. We need to see who joined in the ranks of my sincere citizens. I am inviting these citizens to protect the country and the environment.
Q: Your deputy apologised for the use of excessive force. Do you accept this? Will you be opening the door to dialogue with the protesters?
A: Dear friends, my deputy made all the necessary statements. You of course can’t follow us. If this is to do with overuse of gas, we’ve expressed our sadness about that. We don’t need to repeat this again. There is nowhere in the world, including the developed countries, that does not use tear gas. There can be nothing out of law. If you are going to have a meeting, there are places for that. You go there. If you are going to do a demonstration, you can demonstrate there too. But if you say I demonstrate wherever I want, I burn, I break, this will not be allowed.
We are a party that got 21.5 million votes. We faced close down. We didn’t let our constituency to take to the streets then. We fought democratically, then the law decided. And gave us what was rightly ours. It was in favour of us. I am telling you openly and clearly. We are against the majority dominating the minority. However, we will definitely not tolerate the minority dominating the majority. You need to know that the best thing to do is to protect the rule of law. We also need to protect the natural beauty of Istanbul.
Translator’s note on the context: the population of Turkey is almost 76 million people. Several experts have been opposing the plans for the barracks since the beginning and their comments have not been taken into account. In modern democracies tear gas may be used as a last resort. At least to our knowledge in the UK, stationary protests do not require permission, while marches need permission but, with the exception of around the Parliament, they can take place anywhere.
“A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.”
― Thomas Jefferson