Erdogan urges end to protests, rejects EU criticism

Erdogan urges end to protests, rejects EU criticism
Fri Jun 7, 2013 21:55:39

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has demanded an immediate end to anti-government protests, while a top European Union official criticized the excessive use of force on demonstrators by police.

In his first public show of support since protests began one week ago, Erdogan addressed some 10,000 supporters of his governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) at Istanbul's Ataturk airport after returning from a visit to North Africa.

In contrast to the conciliatory tone shown in preceding days by President Abdullah Gul, Erdogan heaped scorn on the protest movement, saying the demonstrations had "lost their democratic justification" and had turned into "vandalism."

Referring to opposition complaints about his perceived dictatorial style, Erdogan said: "It is not true. We have served all 76 million from east to west."

Erdogan urged his followers to return home peacefully from the airport. Some held banners demanding a violent crackdown on demonstrators in Taksim Square, the focus of protests that began May 31.

Meanwhile, a senior EU official said that Turkey should launch an investigation into excessive police force used against the demonstrators.

“Excessive use of force by police against these demonstrations has no place in such a democracy," Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule said in Istanbul.

The protesters were undeterred by Erdogan's return. There were renewed clashes in at least one district of Istanbul, with tens of thousands taking to the streets around Taksim Square.