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Turkey's Erdogan Rejects EU Criticism

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused his critics of hypocrisy for criticizing a police crackdown on anti-government protesters in Turkey.

Speaking at the Istanbul Conference of the Ministry of European Affairs Friday, hours after returning from a trip to North Africa, Mr. Erdogan said similar methods were used against protestors in the United States and in France, Germany and Greece, all members of the EU.

Mr. Erdogan spoke in response to the remarks made by EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele, who said that use of excessive police force has no place in a democracy.

Demonstrations have taken place in major Turkish cities for the past week in response to what a growing number of Turks see as Mr. Erdogan's authoritarian government.

Police have used tear gas and water cannons on demonstrators. At least two people have been killed, thousands hurt, and thousands of others arrested.

Earlier this week, the government has apologized for the use of force.

Upon his return to Turkey Friday, Mr. Erdogan demanded the anti-government protests end immediately, saying they border on illegality. He spoke at Istanbul's airport to thousands of his supporters who welcomed him back from his trip. He said his government does not support vandalism and destruction of cities and private property.

The protests were sparked last week by government plans to tear down a public park in Istanbul for new construction. Mr. Erdogan has so far refused to scrap those plans.