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.
    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

    Turkey, West in Standoff Over Syrian Refugees

    Turkish government refuses to admit refugees, the first in a wave of civilians fleeing offensive by Assad regime in northern Aleppo countryside

    Jailed American Testifies About Islamist Involvement in Mumbai Attacks

    David Headley testifies via video link that Pakistan-based Islamic terror group made two failed attempts to mount strikes in Mumbai in months prior to coordinated assault

    These Are the 10 Smartest US States

    A new report breaks down the nation's best and brightest

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.