‘Erdogan vows to respect court on Istanbul plans’

‘Erdogan vows to respect court on Istanbul plans’
Fri Jun 14, 2013 12:46:06

Turkish protesters say Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan had pledged hold off on plans to redevelop an Istanbul park until a court ruled on the project, a move they describe as “a positive sign” after two weeks of protest.

Erdogan met a delegation overnight mostly made up of actors and artists but also including two members of the umbrella protest group Taksim Solidarity, hours after saying his patience had run out and warning protesters occupying Gezi Park to leave.

Taksim Solidarity said on Friday that Erdogan had promised to abide by the outcome of a court case filed in an effort to stop the redevelopment and would hold a referendum on the plans if the court found in the government's favor.

"The prime minister said that if the results of the public vote turned out in a way which would leave this area as a park, they will abide by it," Tayfun Kahraman of the protest group told reporters following the meeting.

"His comments that the project will not be executed until the judiciary makes its decision is tonight's positive result."

Taksim Solidarity said in a subsequent statement the group would decide as a whole what course of action to take after consulting on the results of the overnight meeting, leaving it unclear whether they would continue their protest.

A police crackdown on the park nearly two weeks ago triggered an unprecedented wave of protest against Erdogan and his AK Party - an association of centrists and conservative religious elements - drawing in secularists, nationalists, professionals, unionists and students.

Police fired teargas and water cannon day after day in cities including the capital of Ankara last week, while youths threw stones and petrol bombs in Turkey's worst unrest in years. Five people, including a police officer, died and about 5,000 were injured in the clashes.

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