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Posts tagged ‘Erdogan’

Obama, Hollande Resurrect US-French Relations.


President Barack Obama on Tuesday tried to dismiss the notion that France has replaced Britain as the main U.S. partner in Europe, but it was clear during the state visit of President Francois Hollande that the two have the closest relationship between the nations’ leaders since Presidents Bill Clinton and Francois Mitterrand two decades ago.

Laure Mandeville, Washington, D.C., bureau chief of the venerable French publication Le Figaro, best captured this situation when she pointed out to Obama at his joint news conference with Hollande, “You have actually praised France very warmly today and granted our president the first state visit of your second term …

“Does that mean that France has become the best European ally of the U.S. and has replaced Great Britain in that role?”

Obama replied that he has two daughters who are “both gorgeous and wonderful. And that’s how I feel about my outstanding European partners. All of them are wonderful in their own ways.”

However, as Obama and Hollande went through a welcoming ceremony at the White House, their news conference, and a state dinner, reporters from France and the United States recalled the sharp tensions between their countries after the U.S. strike against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 2003.

The strong opposition by then-President Jacques Chirac to the Iraq offensive resulted in a modern-day low point of relations between Paris and Washington. In the United States, this was symbolized by the congressional cafeterias offering “Freedom Fries” in lieu of French fries.

All that was in the dim past Tuesday during the first state visit of a French president to the United States since 1996.

Hollande said Obama’s election as president in 2008 “had been welcomed in France” because “America was able to make something possible, to make progress possible.”

He went on to recall his decision last summer to stand with Obama on a strike on Syria, saying, “We were prepared to resort to force, but we found another option — negotiation.”

From France and the United States being “extremely attentive” in helping Lebanon deal with its massive influx of refugees, to his commitment to the cause of climate change, Hollande repeatedly underscored his solidarity with the American president.

The French Socialist president was warm and positive, even regarding the spy controversy by National Security Agency renegade Edward Snowden.

“Following the revelations [of European eavesdropping by the NSA] that appeared due to Mr. Snowden,” Hollande told reporters, “President Obama and myself clarified things. This was in the past.”

Hollande said, “Mutual trust has been restored, and that mutual trust must be based on respect for each other’s country, but also based on the protection of private life, of personal data — the fact that any individual, in spite of technological progress, can be sure that he is not being spied on.”

Obama’s response to Le Figaro’s Mandeville notwithstanding, there is a strong case to be made that Obama works more closely with France’s Hollande than with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Where Hollande stood firm with Obama on Syria, Cameron was unable to join any military alliance against the Assad regime when the British House of Commons voted down his proposal.

In addition, it is obvious that France is now the key conduit in trying to help Obama craft a new U.S. relationship with Iran.

Hollande said as much when he told reporters: “Nothing prevented us from having bilateral contacts, and I had some bilateral contacts. In New York I received [Iranian] President [Hassan] Rouhani during the General Assembly. So it is perfectly legitimate for discussions to take place.”

Ken Weinstein, president of the Hudson Institute, summarized the Obama-Hollande friendship to Newsmax.

“Unlike President Bush, Barack Obama has a tough time turning foreign leaders into confidants — and his judgment, as when he chose [Turkish Premier] Erdogan as a preferred interlocutor, has been wrong,” Weinstein said.

“It’s clear that Obama and Hollande have a real and deep rapport. Both need each other — Obama for guidance on Syria, where his policies have failed, and to show that he does have European allies after Snowden, and Hollande, these days, to prove that he isn’t a laughingstock but a world leader.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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Turkey Warns It May Deploy Army as Protests Rage.


Image: Turkey Warns It May Deploy Army as Protests Rage

A wounded protester is seen after Turkish riot police broke up a demonstration at Taksim Gezi Park in Istanbul on June 16.

Turkey warned on Monday it may bring in the army to help quell nationwide anti-government protests after a weekend of heavy clashes between riot police and demonstrators sent tensions soaring.

The presence of soldiers on the streets would mark a major escalation of a crisis that has raged for nearly three weeks and has posed the biggest challenge yet to the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Islamic-rooted government.

The announcement came as police continued to spray tear gas and water at clusters of demonstrators in Istanbul and the capital Ankara in battles that raged with fresh intensity after the weekend eviction of protesters occupying Istanbul’s Gezi Park, the epicenter of the protest movement.

Police “will use all their powers” to end the unrest, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said in a televised interview. “If this is not enough, we can even utilize the Turkish armed forces in cities.”

Turkey’s two main trade unions meanwhile began a nationwide strike against the police crackdown on Gezi Park demonstrators, a stoppage the government branded “illegal”.

The KESK and DISK trade unions, which together represent hundreds of thousands of workers, said they planned to hold demos in the late afternoon to call for the police violence to “end immediately”.

Turkey’s once all-powerful army, which staged four coups in 50 years, has stayed silent throughout the turmoil, making it the first time in the country’s modern history that it has not intervened in a major political crisis.

Observers say the pro-secular military been steadily sidelined during Erdogan’s decade in power, though some members of the gendarmerie were stationed at key points in Istanbul at the weekend to stop protesters from trying to cross the Bosphorus bridge.

At a rally of more than 100,000 supporters of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Sunday, the premier insisted it was his “duty” to order police to storm Gezi Park after protesters defied his warnings to clear out.

“I said we were at an end. That it was unbearable. Yesterday the operation was carried out and it was cleaned up,” a combative Erdogan told a sea of cheering loyalists. “It was my duty as prime minister.”

The crisis began when a peaceful sit-in to save Gezi’s 600 trees from being razed prompted a brutal police response on May 31, spiraling into countrywide demonstrations against Erdogan.

So far four people have been killed and nearly 7,500 people injured, according to the Turkish Medical Association (TBB).

In response to Saturday’s renewed crackdown on the small park, where a festive tent city had sprung in recent weeks, thousands took to the streets in Turkey’s two main cities and engaged in running battles with police throughout the weekend.

Nearly 600 people were arrested on Sunday alone, according to the Ankara and Istanbul bar associations.

Erdogan on Sunday vowed to go after those who had offered assistance to the protesters, in a nod to the luxury hotels who opened their doors to people fleeing the volleys of tear gas and jets of water dousing during the evacuation of Gezi.

“We know the ones who sheltered in their hotels those who cooperated with terror. They will be held accountable,” he said at the Istanbul rally.

Opponents accuse Erdogan of authoritarian tendencies and of forcing Islamic conservative reforms on the mainly Muslim but staunchly secular nation of 76 million.

Erdogan, 59, has been in power since 2002. His AKP has won three elections in a row, gaining in popularity each time and taking nearly half the vote in 2011 after presiding over strong economic growth.

A survey by Metropoll, published in the Zaman daily on Monday found that the AKP would still come first if elections were held now, with 35.3 percent of the vote.

But 49.9 percent of the more than 2,800 people questioned this month felt the government was becoming more authoritarian, the report said.

It found that more than 60 percent of respondents wanted Gezi Park to remain a green space, while 23 percent favored the government’s plan to rebuild Ottoman-era military barracks on the site.

In a bid to end the row over the park, Erdogan last week offered to suspend the redevelopment project pending a court ruling on its legality.

But the Taksim Solidarity group, seen as most representative of the protesters, rejected the olive branch, saying their movement was now more than a conservation struggle.

By Monday morning, there was a much lighter police presence near Gezi.

Police reopened the newly spruced-up Taksim Square, which border Gezi Park, allowing in commuters and tourists, and traffic flowed freely. The park remained closed as municipal workers continued their clean-up operation.

© AFP 2013

Source: NEWSmax.com

Turkey Violence Continues After Police Storm Istanbul Square.


ISTANBUL — Turkish riot police fought running battles with pockets of protesters overnight after storming a central Istanbul square in a show of force that risked ratcheting up tensions almost two weeks after anti-government demonstrations began.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who has repeatedly dismissed the demonstrators as “riff-raff”, was expected to meet protest leaders on Wednesday though one core group said it had not been invited and would not attend anyway.

Police fired volleys of tear gas canisters into the center of a crowd of thousands on Taksim Square without warning at dusk on Tuesday. The crowd included people in office clothes gathered after work and families with children, as well as youths in masks who had fought skirmishes throughout the day.

Clouds of choking tear gas sent them scattering into side streets. Staff in surrounding hotels raised shutters just enough to allow people to crawl inside for shelter, as water cannon swept across the square targeting stone-throwing youths.

The fierce crackdown on the initial protests against the planned redevelopment of Gezi Park, a leafy corner of Taksim, drew international condemnation and calls for restraint. The latest police move came a day after Erdogan agreed to meet protest leaders involved in the initial demonstrations.

“There’s no room for dialogue when there’s ongoing violence,” said Mucella Yapici of the Taksim Solidarity Platform, a core group behind the Gezi Park campaign.

Chanting gangs of hard-core demonstrators taunted police in the narrow lanes leading down to the Bosphorus waterway late into the night, drawing more tear gas and water cannon spray. Municipal workers used bulldozers to remove the remains of vandalized vehicles and clear the square above.

Police also fired water cannons to disperse protesters in the center of the capital, Ankara.

Erdogan earlier called on protesters to stay out of Taksim, where a heavy-handed police crackdown on a rally against development of Gezi Park triggered an unprecedented wave of protest in cities across Turkey almost two weeks ago.

UNYIELDING

Gezi Park has been turned into a ramshackle settlement of tents by leftists, environmentalists, liberals, students and professionals who see the development plan as symptomatic of an overbearing government.

The authorities have said legitimate protesters in the park will be allowed to stay, for now, and they remained camped out.

The protests, during which demonstrators used fireworks and petrol bombs, have posed a stark challenge to Erdogan’s authority and divided the country. Erdogan, who denies accusations of authoritarian behavior, said he would not yield.

“They say the prime minister is rough. So what was going to happen here? Were we going to kneel down in front of these [people]?” Erdogan said as action to clear the square began.

“If you call this roughness, I’m sorry, but this Tayyip Erdogan won’t change,” he told a meeting of his AK party’s parliamentary group on Tuesday.

Western powers have voiced concern about the troubles in an important NATO ally bordering Syria, Iraq, and Iran. The United States has in the past held up Erdogan’s Turkey as an Islamic democracy that could be emulated elsewhere in the Middle East.

“We continue to follow events in Turkey with concern, and our interest remains supporting freedom of expression and assembly, including the right to peaceful protest,” White House spokesman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement in Washington.

The victor in three consecutive elections, Erdogan says the protests are engineered by vandals, terrorist elements and unnamed foreign forces. His critics, who say conservative religious elements have won out over centrists in the AK Party, accuse him of inflaming the crisis with unyielding talk.

The unrest has knocked investor confidence in a country that has boomed under Erdogan. The lira, already suffering from wider market turmoil, fell on Tuesday to its weakest level against its dollar/euro basket since October 2011.

The cost of insuring Turkish debt against default rose to its highest in 10 months, although it remained far from crisis levels.

Turkey’s Medical Association said that as of late Monday, 4,947 people had sought treatment in hospitals and voluntary infirmaries for injuries, ranging from cuts and burns to breathing difficulties from tear gas inhalation, since the unrest began more than 10 days ago.

Three people have died.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Turkish Riot Police Clash With Protesters as Chaos Escalates.


ISTANBUL — Turkish riot police fired water cannons and teargas at hundreds of protesters in Istanbul’s Taksim Square on Tuesday, Reuters witnesses said, entering the square for the first time since demonstrations against plans to develop a park there turned violent.

The police move came after Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan agreed to meet protest leaders, whose peaceful demonstrations two weeks ago spiraled into protests against his government, in which three people have been killed and about 5,000 hurt.

Police removed protesters’ banners from a building overlooking the square and the local governor said police had no intention of breaking up the protest in adjoining Gezi Park.

“Our aim is to remove the signs and pictures on Ataturk statue and the Ataturk Cultural Center. We have no other aim,” Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu wrote on Twitter. “Gezi Park and Taksim will not be touched.”

Police hung a single Turkish flag and a picture of modern Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk from the building.

Crowd control vehicles fired water cannons against groups of protesters who threw stones, fireworks, and molotov cocktails at police.

Nearby, hundreds more protesters, wearing face masks to protect against the effects of teargas, gathered on steps leading from the square to the park.

“Every place is Taksim, every place resistance,” the protesters chanted.

Police appealed to the demonstrators not to attack, calling from loudspeakers, “Dear Gezi friends. We are unhappy with this situation. We don’t want to intervene. We don’t want to harm you. Please withdraw.”

“If you don’t throw rocks or bottles we will not intervene. Let’s quit fighting,” a police officer called out as clashes continued.

“RIFF-RAFF”

Erdogan has repeatedly dismissed the protesters as riff-raff. But Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said on Monday leaders of the Gezi Park Platform group had asked to meet him in an effort to end the unrest.

A meeting was expected on Wednesday.

The protests have shaken the predominantly Muslim country’s image as a stable democracy in a turbulent region and as a vibrant emerging market for investors.

The violent police action has drawn criticism from the West and Erdogan has increasingly accused foreign forces of trying to aggravate the troubles.

For the last 10 days the protesters have controlled a large area around the square, with approach roads barricaded by masonry, paving stones and steel rods. Police had withdrawn completely from the area and kept water cannon vehicles hundreds of meters away by the side of the Bosphorus strait.

In a move that might add to discontent among secular Turks, President Abdullah Gul approved on Monday a bill that scales back the sale and consumption of alcohol.

Turkey has a secular constitution but Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted AK party has come under fire for undermining the separation of state and religion. Critics accuse Erdogan and the party of trying to interfere in their lives.

Turkish markets have been hit by the unrest and the Turkish lira, also hit by market developments abroad, weakened to 2.22 against its dollar/euro basket on Tuesday, its weakest level since October 2011.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: NEWSmax.com

Tens of Thousands Mass in Turkey’s Cities as Erdogan Calls for Support.


Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan brought his supporters onto the streets as he staged rallies in several cities including the capital Ankara, where police moved against protesters in the city center.

Erdogan blamed banks and financial speculators for seeking to profit from the unrest as he spoke to crowds in the cities of Adana and Mersin before a multi-stop speaking tour in Ankara, where he halted his journey from the airport several times late yesterday to address crowds from atop his bus. It was a show of strength by the Islamist-rooted premier, who has been the target of nationwide protests since police cracked down on a rally in an Istanbul park on May 31.

Erdogan said his government would listen to the protesters’ demands, saying he would be ready to meet a chosen representative. He also said that if the demonstrators remain in the streets, “we’ll have to answer them in the language they understand.”

As Erdogan’s bus inched through the capital amid crowds cheering and waving flags, footage on CNN Turk and other channels showed police using tear gas and water cannons to drive demonstrators out of the Kizilay Square district in the city’s center. A few minutes earlier, Erdogan had urged protesters to withdraw. It was a warning for the crowds in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, where police have been absent more than a week and tens of thousands gathered last night for an opposition rally followed by a rock concert.

Weeklong Clashes

At least three people, including a policeman, have died in more than a week of clashes between police and protesters who accuse Erdogan of increasingly autocratic behavior after three successive election victories. Turkish police have used tear gas, pepper spray and water cannon to quell the protests, drawing international criticism of their conduct. Erdogan called on his supporters to respond to the protesters at the ballot box. Turkey is due to hold local and presidential votes next year and parliamentary elections in 2015.

He called the demonstrators “terrorists” and “anarchists” and praising officers he called “my police” for their efforts to restore security. Erdogan also lashed out against financial speculators he accused of planning the events because they profit from higher interest rates in Turkey. He asked his followers to deposit their money in state banks, while accusing private banks of opposing him.

“You who started this struggle against us, you’ll pay a heavy price for it,” he said, referring to the private banks and an “interest-rates lobby” he says is trying to undermine and profit from Turkey’s economy by keeping its interest rates high. “The interest rates lobby has exploited my people’s sweat for years, and you won’t be able to exploit it any longer.”

Banging Pans

European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton said allegations of excessive police force in Turkey should be investigated promptly those responsible held accountable, according to a statement from her office yesterday.

The protesters in Istanbul have barricaded off Taksim Square and gathered there each day since May 31. Across major cities including Ankara and Istanbul, the sounds of people banging on pots and pans and whistling rings out each night at 9 p.m. in protest against Erdogan’s rule.

Erdogan’s verbal attacks against the finance industry may backfire in markets, according to Tim Ash, chief emerging markets economist at Standard Bank Plc in London.

“They are somehow trying to pin the blame on the protests on markets, and market participants, including foreigners,” Ash said in e-mailed comments yesterday. “The attack on stock market speculation will hardly go down well with foreign portfolio investors who have bought into the Erdogan/AKP story over the past decade, and have been part of its success.”

Squeeze Throat

Erdogan said yesterday that his government would “squeeze the throat” of speculators in the stock market. He also said that there were powers inside and outside Turkey who were unhappy with Turkey’s economic success under his Justice and Development Party or AKP, which won the last election in 2011 with 50 percent of the vote.

Turkey pays the fourth-highest interest rates on its two- year local currency debt among 21 major emerging markets, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The yield on Turkish benchmark two-year bonds has increased 76 basis points since May 31 to 6.55 percent at the close on June 9, up from a record low of 4.79 percent on May 17. The benchmark stock index fell 8.9 percent last week, the most in almost two years.

‘Stand Tall’

As Erdogan rallied his supporters, crowds chanted slogans including “stand tall, this people is with you,” and “let the hands of those who touch the police be broken.” They booed at each mention of the interest rates lobby.

Erdogan accused demonstrators of damaging public property and shops, calling them riffraff and looters and complaining that they uttered obscenities against him.

The government has ruled out early elections to defuse the snowballing protests.

“The prime minister is fueling tensions with his combative style, he must soften his tone,” said Ibrahim Koksel, 47, in Ankara, adding that he had voted for Erdogan’s party. “This is a reflection of unease over what he has done over the past decade.”

Protesters have cited grievances including suppression of the media, legislation passed last month to curb alcohol sales and advertising, an increase in religious lessons at schools, and development plans in Taksim’s Gezi Park and other areas that they say will destroy green spaces.

More than 4,000 people have been treated at hospitals for injuries sustained since the clashes began, the Turkish Medical Association said yesterday.

© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Turkish Unions Join Fifth Day of Deadly Anti-Government Protests.


ISTANBUL — Pockets of protesters clashed with Turkish riot police overnight and a union federation began a two-day strike on Tuesday as anti-government demonstrations in which two people have died stretched into a fifth day.

Hundreds of police and protesters have been injured since Friday, when a demonstration to halt construction in a park in an Istanbul square grew into mass protests against a heavy-handed police crackdown and what opponents call Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan‘s authoritarian policies.

A 22-year-old protester was shot dead late on Monday at a rally in the southern town of Antakya near the Syrian border, the provincial governor’s office said, the second death after a taxi hit a demonstrator in Istanbul on Sunday. It was not clear who opened fire at the demonstration.

Turkey’s leftist Public Workers Unions Confederation (KESK), which represents 240,000 members, was due to begin a two-day “warning strike” at midday to protest at the police crackdown on what had begun as peaceful protests.

In a defiant response to Turkey’s worst riots in years, Erdogan said the protesters were “arm-in-arm with terrorism,” before leaving for an official visit to North Africa on Monday.

Barricades of rubble hindered traffic alongside the Bosphorus waterway and blocked entry into Istanbul’s main Taksim Square after clashes overnight. Leftist groups hung out red and black flags, and banners calling on Erdogan to resign and declaring: “Whatever happens, there is no going back.”

In Ankara, police charged mostly teenage demonstrators and scattered them using teargas and water cannon late on Monday. Protesters had erected a barricade in the Kizilay government quarter and lit a fire in the road.

Erdogan has dismissed the protests as the work of secular enemies never reconciled to the election success of his AK party, which has roots in Islamist parties banned in the past but which also embraces center-right and nationalist elements.

The party has won three straight elections and overseen an economic boom, increasing Turkey’s influence in the region.

“This is a protest organized by extremist elements,” Erdogan said before leaving for North Africa. “We will not give away anything to those who live arm-in-arm with terrorism.”

On arrival in Rabat, flanked by Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, Erdogan blamed parties that had lost elections for the violence, which he predicted would be short-lived: “In a few days the situation will return to normal.”

The unrest delivered a blow to Turkish financial markets that have thrived under Erdogan. Shares fell more than 10 percent and the lira dropped to 16-month lows on Monday.

The United States called for restraint in a rebuke to its NATO ally. “We are concerned by the reports of excessive use of force by police,” Secretary of State John Kerry said.

WIND OF CHANGE

Since taking office in 2002, Erdogan has curtailed the power of the army, which ousted four governments in the second half of the 20th century and which hanged and jailed many, including a prime minister.

Hundreds of officers, as well as journalists and intellectuals have been jailed over an alleged coup plot against Erdogan. The wind of change has also swept through the judiciary.

Where Erdogan was jailed in the late 1990s for promoting Islamism by reciting a poem, a musician was recently jailed for blasphemy after mocking religion in a tweet.

Erdogan said the protesters had no support in the population as a whole and dismissed any comparison with the “Arab Spring” that swept nearby Arab states, toppling rulers long ensconced in power with the help of repressive security services.

His own tenure in office, with its economic and political reforms, was itself the “Turkish Spring,” he suggested.

He gave no indication he was preparing any concessions to protesters who accuse him of fostering a hidden Islamist agenda in a country with a secularist constitution.

Some object to new restrictions on alcohol sales and other steps seen as religiously motivated. Others complain of the costs of Erdogan’s support of rebels in neighbouring Syria’s civil war.

Still others bear economic grievances, viewing the disputed development project in Taksim Square as emblematic of wild greed among those who have benefited from Turkey’s boom.

SAFE FOR NOW

Walls around Taksim were plastered with posters of a policeman spraying teargas at a young woman in a red summer dress, her hair swept upwards by the draught of the spraygun.

“The more they spray, the bigger we get,” read the caption.

Western governments have promoted Erdogan’s administration as a democratic Islamist model that could be copied elsewhere in the Middle East after the fall of authoritarian leaders.

They have expressed concerns about human rights standards discreetly, but last weekend’s events prompted the United States and the European Union to openly criticize police action.

Erdogan appeared to reject accusations of heavy handedness, saying authorities were “behaving in a very restrained way”.

With strong support, especially in the conservative religious heartland of Anatolia, Erdogan remains Turkey’s most popular politician and seems safe for now.

He said plans would go ahead to re-make Taksim Square, long a rallying point for demonstrations, including construction of a new mosque and the rebuilding of a replica Ottoman-era barracks.

The protests have involved a broad spectrum in dozens of cities, from students to professionals, trade unionists, Kurdish activists and hardline secularists who see Erdogan seeking to overthrow the secularist state set up by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923 in the ruins of the Ottoman Empire.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Huge Protests Envelop Turkey; Erdogan Calls Dissenters Extremists.


ISTANBUL — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced protests against his government over the past three days as the work of extremists, while streets in central Istanbul remained barricaded, clashes flared again in Ankara, and financial markets plunged.

The premier was defiant at a press conference at Istanbul airport Monday before departing for a three-day trip to North Africa. He blamed the unrest on “extreme elements” working together with the main opposition party.

Erdogan said Turkey’s democracy means the protests can’t be compared with the Arab Spring, and that his party is restraining its own supporters from retaliating against demonstrators.

Istanbul was calmer Monday after a weekend of violent clashes between police and tens of thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-government slogans.

Sparked by protests against plans to redevelop a park near the central Taksim Square, the rallies broadened to target what demonstrators say is the Islamist-rooted Erdogan’s autocratic style, with grievances including alleged police brutality, curbs on alcohol sales, and restrictions on labor unions.

The protests spread throughout the country.

In Ankara Monday, police used tear gas and water cannon against a group of students, NTV television said. At least 1,500 people were detained in Ankara, Hurriyet Daily News reported, citing opposition lawmaker Aylin Nazliaka.

Stocks Slump

Turkey’s benchmark stock index slumped 7.9 percent at 3:30 p.m. in Istanbul, headed for its biggest drop in five years. Yields on two-year lira bonds jumped 36 basis points to 6.43 percent, and the lira fell 1 percent to 1.8938 per dollar.

Erdogan has presided over an economic boom and won three elections, each with an increased share of the vote, making him less vulnerable to the kind of unrest that swept away longtime leaders in Egypt and other Middle East countries two years ago.

He may, though, come under pressure to moderate a style of governing that has seen personal edicts, on issues ranging from the content of popular television shows to the role of parliament, transformed into proposals for new laws.

Erdogan is currently seeking support for a new constitution that would allow the president to issue decrees with force of law, dissolve parliament, call elections, and decide whether to use the army.

“Protests do not pose a threat to government stability, and are unlikely to threaten the ruling party’s re-election,” Naz Masraff, an analyst at Eurasia Group, which measures political risk, said in an email Sunday. “However, the protests will significantly constrain Erdogan’s ability to push for a presidential system in Turkey, as these events show he is increasingly perceived as becoming more authoritarian.”

Mosque Plan

On Sunday, Erdogan said the government would push ahead with the redevelopment of Taksim, including plans to build a mosque.

President Abdullah Gul sounded a more conciliatory note, calling for calm in a speech in Ankara Monday. He said that the protesters’ message had been received and called it a test for Turkey’s democracy, which he said isn’t just about elections.

Gul is a longtime ally of Erdogan, though local media have reported strains between them in recent years.

Turkey will hold its first public vote for the presidency next year when Gul’s term ends, and there’s speculation Erdogan may stand. Parliamentary elections are due the year after.

Erdogan has been seeking support for constitutional changes that would increase the powers of the office, currently largely symbolic. His party would need backing from at least one other group in the legislature to get the measures through. The main opposition parties are against the plan.

Gas Treatment

There were clashes over the weekend in 67 cities, Interior Minister Muammer Guler told reporters Sunday. One person was killed when a car drove into a crowd of protesters, while 1,740 people received treatment for injuries or effects of gas, Hurriyet said. Guler said 115 policemen were among the injured.

The protests began when police fired tear gas to clear demonstrators out of Gezi Park near Taksim, where they were resisting what they said were plans to cut down trees and build a new complex including a shopping center.

Activists used social media sites to organize gatherings, while local media mostly played down the events. Erdogan ordered an investigation into use of force by police.

© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

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