Turkish PM changes plans
ISTANBUL — Turkey's combative prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Friday abandoned his plan to build a new shopping mall on one of the few green patches in central Istanbul, but he insisted on razing the park nevertheless, a mixed signal that could prolong weeklong protests here and in other cities.
Pulling back from a plan that he had announced two years ago to build a replica of an Ottoman-era army barracks on the site of Gezi Park, Erdogan said the mall “is not possible in the artillery barracks anyway, given the measurements.” He added: “We may build a city museum instead, and a green area that would be far better than the current park.”
The lack of a clear reason for destroying the park may cause Erdogan problems if he tries to evict the protesters, for it isn't clear now what the project is about. Two demonstrators and a policeman have died since police broke up a peaceful protest with tear gas and water cannon, provoking the worst unrest Turkey has seen for years and inciting worldwide criticism of Erdogan.
Erdogan returned in the early hours Friday from a three-day trip to North Africa to address an odd rally by supporters summoned to Istanbul airport at the last minute by his Justice and Development Party. He immediately demanded an end to the protests, which he denounced as “vandalism and utter lawlessness.”
But even though thousands chanted mob-like slogans like “Let us go, let us smash them,” a reference to the protesters occupying Gezi Park, it appeared that Turkey's most powerful politician had lost control over a secondary local issue and, by virtue of his own mishandling, had let it become a test of his power.
As the leader of a nation of 76 million who is trying to negotiate peace with Kurdish rebels, entry into the European Union and help reshape the Middle East as a more democratic place, Erdogan seemed on the defensive over the Gezi Park project.
Before departing Tunisia, he said the destruction of the park would proceed, and he called the new project a “blend of history, culture and nature.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Human rights issues cloud Strategic Dialogue meeting between U.S., Egypt
- Comets hold life building blocks
- Kurdish suicide attack in Turkey kills soldiers, hurts dozens
- Senate to grill United Nations agency chief Amano on Iran nuclear pact
- Latest debris found on French island not from missing Malaysia Airlines flight
- French riot police push back migrants at Channel Tunnel
- Gunbattle kills 21 at Afghan wedding party
- WikiLeaks says U.S. spied on another ally: Japan
- Vibrantly colored mural spread across 200 homes in central Mexico city
- Israeli teen stabbed at pride parade dies