PM Erdoğan calls on demonstrators to end Gezi Park protest, no step back from project


Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called on demonstrators protesting the demolition of Taksim Gezi Park to end their mobilization, without back-peddling on the Artillary Barracks project that initially sparked the protests.

«I'm warning those who came there with honest feelings - they have been subject to illegal groups, they should not comply with them. I plead that they immediately end this protest,» Erdoğan said June 1 in a speech at the 20th congress of Turkey's Exporters Assembly. 

He described the demonstrations as «ideological» rather than «environmental.» «Nobody has the right to raise tensions with the excuse that trees are being cut down, he said, claiming that the opposition was «manipulating» the protests. 

He also reiterated that the demolition underway was related to the enlargement of the pedestrian road at the Harbiye entrance of the park, and not to the controversial Artillery Barracks project. «But the issue is not the 5-10 trees that are being removed. The demonstration that started with the Gezi Park protests has become ideological,» Erdoğan said, without giving any signals that the reconstitution of the historic barracks would be halted.

He said the much debated Atatürk Cultural Center (AKM), also on Taksim Square, should also be demolished, proposing to build an opera house there instead.

Adapted from Hurriyet

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