News / Middle East

Turkish PM Agrees to Postpone Park Redevelopment

People light candles in victims' memory of recent protests at Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 14, 2013.
People light candles in victims' memory of recent protests at Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 14, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Dorian Jones
— Late night talks between Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan and protest representatives have brought the hope of a peaceful outcome to the two weeks of nationwide anti-government protests. The unrest was sparked by government plans to redevelop a park in central Istanbul. Now those plans are on hold.   

In the early hours of Friday morning, representatives for protesters and a government spokesman described the all night meeting as positive.

Friday,  Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has appealed to protesters to evacuate park by late Friday, after pledging to suspend plans to redevelop the site.

In a televised speech Friday,  Erdogan said the protesters have remained in the park long enough and have delivered their message.  He said that message has been "received and evaluated."

The meeting in the capital, Ankara, was the first time Erdogan had met protest organizers directly.  He said he would respect a court injunction blocking his plans to redevelop Gezi Park in central Istanbul and he committed his government to accepting its final decision.

Speaking after Thursday night's meeting, government spokesman Huseyin Celik said the talks had a positive outcome.

He says that Turkey is a state of law and it is impossible for the executive branch to perform an unlawful act. He says the government must conform to a court decision.
 
Celik said a public vote would be held on the future of Gezi Park.

Plans to redevelop the park into a shopping center were the initial spark for the protests, which then broadened into anti-government demonstrations in several cities.

Tayfun Kahraman, one of the protest organizers, welcomed the government move.
 
He says that delaying the project until the judiciary makes a decision is a positive result.

  • A protester makes the victory sign as he sits outside Gezi Park in front of riot police vehicles at Taksim Square, Istanbul, June 14, 2013.
  • Protesters watch a film in Gezi Park in Istanbul, June 14, 2013.
  • German pianist Davide Martello is surrounded by anti-government protesters as he performs in Istanbul's Taksim Square, June 13, 2013.
  • Protesters stand in front of a barricade at Gezi park, Istanbul, June 13, 2013.
  • Taksim Square is flooded by tear gas during clashes between protesters and riot police, Istanbul, June 11, 2013.
  • Police operate during clashes at Taksim Square, Istanbul, June 11, 2013.
  • A protester tries to take cover from a water cannon fired by police during clashes in Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 11, 2013.
  • A protester throws a tear gas canister back at police during clashes in Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 11, 2013.
  • A protester throws a gas bomb towards riot police during clashes in Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 11, 2013.
  • A protester throws a petrol bomb towards a crowd control vehicle in Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 11, 2013.
  • A crowd control vehicle fires a water cannon against protesters in Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 11, 2013.
  • A protester walks in front of a burning barricade during clashes in Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 11, 2013.
  • Protesters carry another protester affected by tear gas during clashes in Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 11, 2013.

Kahraman is a member of Taksim Solidarity which initiated the occupation of Gezi Park  that sparked the nationwide unrest.   

Throughout the night hundreds of the police backed by armored cars surrounded the park ready to move against the protestors who spent the night listening to live music and  waiting on developments in Ankara.

Earlier, Erdogan took a tough line on the protests, branding the demonstrators as "extremists" and "looters."

Speaking at a meeting of his ruling AK Party (AKP) in Ankara on Thursday, Erdogan said that the government's patience is at an end and that he is making a last warning to protesters

For now, the police appear to have backed off. The government is still calling for an end to the occupation of the park but appear to have dropped the 24-hour ultimatum.  The protestors are due to decide whether to continue their occupation.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
June 14, 2013 6:30 PM
It is good to hear that the conflict, over the future of the Gezi park, is being defused. This is not a unique situation in Turkey; as more and more people around the world come to realize the need for green spaces, in crowded cities, it has become a high priority for the wellbeing of all. We have seen protests all over the world wrt the need to protect and preserve the environment. I just hope Erdogan keeps his word on this issue; we already have enough, ongoing, conflicts around the world, no one needs another one in Turkey.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid