Turkey PM says terrorists took part in protests
TURKISH prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accused "terrorists" of taking part in anti-government protests that have gripped the country, as he refused to cancel a controversial development that provoked the demonstrations a week ago.
Reflecting fears that the defiant speech would infuriate protesters and prolong the mass demonstrations, the country's stock exchange dropped by 4.7 per cent – a slide of 12 per cent this week.
"Among the protesters, there are extremists, some of them implicated in terrorism," Mr Erdogan said during a press conference in Tunisa,. "Supporters of this terrorist organisation were present" in Istanbul's Taksim Square, the centre of the protests, he added.
Mr Erdogan refused to back down on the proposal to build on Gezi Park in Istanbul, the issue that led to the demonstrations. "We will not allow a minority to dictate to the majority, nor will we accept the tyranny of the majority," he said.
Mr Erdogan said he had "love and respect" for protesters with environmental concerns.
"But as I told you earlier, some terrorist groups are involved," he said, claiming that an outlawed left-wing militant group that carried out a suicide bomb attack on the US Embassy in Ankara in February was also involved in the protests.
Mr Erdogan said the Islamic-rooted government had already apologised for the violent police crackdown on the Taksim sit-in, but insisted that tear gas was used everywhere in the world to break up protests.
"Demands cannot be made through illegal means," he said. Mr Erdogan has insisted that democracy happens only at the ballot box.
He indicated that the government would go ahead with the redevelopment plans in central Istanbul, insisting the plan would beautify the city, and would include the planting of trees and the construction of a theatre and opera house. (©Daily Telegraph, London)