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

Computer Crash Halts US Visa, Passport Operation

Problems with database have resulted in extensive backlog of applications, affected State Department's consular offices all over the world More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

World Bank: Boko Haram Stalls African Aid Projects

Islamist group’s terrorism sets back agriculture, health efforts in Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria 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.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid