News / Europe

Turkish Prime Minister Meets Park Protesters

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and some of his ministers and advisors meet with with a group of activists in his offices in Ankara, June 12, 2013.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and some of his ministers and advisors meet with with a group of activists in his offices in Ankara, June 12, 2013.
VOA News
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is meeting with a handful of anti-government protesters after a night of violent clashes in central Istanbul.

But as a delegation of 11 students, academics and artists met Erdogan, some protesters at Istanbul's Gezi Park and civic associations rejected the talks, saying the group had been handpicked by the government.

Turkish riot police on Wednesday cleared protesters from Istanbul's central square, following a night of clashes.

The police operation follows nearly two weeks of demonstrations in Taksim Square that began when protesters were determined to stop authorities from tearing up Gezi Park next to the square for a new building.

Protesters have also demanded Erdogan's resignation, accusing him of imposing his conservative Islamist views on a secular nation.

  • 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.

The prime minister has countered that demonstrators are deliberately trying to damage Turkey's image and economy. He said the protesters are "trying to prevent Turkey's rise and are being used by financial institutions and media groups to harm Turkey's economy.

Four people have died since the protests began almost two weeks ago. About 5,000 people have been hurt and thousands of others arrested.

Turkish President Adbullah Gul has called for dialogue with demonstrators against the park's redevelopment but said those who had taken to the streets in violent protests were to be dealt with differently.

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