Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for an immediate end to the anti - government protests that have swept the country for the past several days.
Erdogan made the remark on Friday in an address to his supporters at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport upon returning from a four - day trip to North Africa.
“I call for an immediate end to the demonstrations, which have lost their democratic credentials and turned into vandalism, ” Erdogan said to thousands of cheering supporters who descended on the airport to welcome him home.
He thanked his supporters for their restraint in recent days. “You have remained calm, mature and showed common sense, ” the premier said, adding that “we’re all going to go home from here… You’re not the type of people to bang pots and pans on the streets. ” Speaking in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, on Thursday, hours before his return to Turkey, Erdogan enraged protesters at home by saying that he would go ahead with a controversial plan to redevelop Istanbul’s Gezi Park, which is part of the city’s iconic Taksim Square. Meanwhile, thousands of whistle - blowing protesters gathered in Taksim Square, chanting, “Erdogan, Resign!”
“He doesn’t want to change something but he will do it. I don’t know when, but he will change, ” said one of the protesters.
Erdogan responded to calls for his resignation by referring to his election victory in 2011, when he took 50 percent of the vote. “They say I am the prime minister of only 50 percent. It’s not true. We have served the whole of the 76 million from the east to the west,” the Turkish premier stated. The anti-government unrest began after police broke up a sit-in staged in Taksim Square on May 31 to protest against the government plan for Gezi Park. In Tunis, Erdogan also reiterated his claims that ‘extremists’ and ‘foreign agitators’ were to blame for the violence, adding that seven foreigners were arrested in connection with the week-long protests. The Turkish premier acknowledged that excessive force had been used by the police. The anti-government demonstrations have mainly been held in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Mugla, Antalya, and many other cities and towns. According to Turkish reports, at least four people, including a policeman, have been confirmed dead during the protests so far. Turkish Human Rights Foundation says some 4,300 people have been hurt or sought medical care for the effects of tear gas inhalation. The Turkish government says dozens of police officers have also been injured.