Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a final warning to protesters in Istanbul’s Taksim Square on Thursday, warning his patience was at an end and calling on protesters to leave the area’s Gezi Park. He also said that Israel is happy about the events at the square.
Protesters were given 24 hours in which to leave the park and avoid a possible confrontation between police and members of "illegal organizations," who Erdogan labeled as "troublemakers."
"Our patience is at an end," the prime minister said. "I am giving my warning for the last time. I say to the mothers and fathers, please take your children in hand and bring them out... We cannot wait any more because Gezi Park does not belong to occupying forces but to the people," Erdogan reportedly said at an AK (Justice and Development) Party meeting) in Ankara, according to the Turkish daily newspaper Today’s Zaman.
Nor did Erdogan leave out Israel: "Those against whom we said 'One minute' are now satisfied," he said bitterly, referring to his explosion at Israel's President Shimon Peres in 2009 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, and his demand at that time to moderators for more time to talk -- which was declined.
The statement came one day after his party voted to hold a referendum on the development plan for the park that had ignited the protests in the first place.
Erdogan also slammed a decision ratified by the European Parliament rapping Turkey for its crackdown on the nationwide protests, saying he would not recognize decisions by any European body regarding Turkey.
Erdogan pointed out that Turkey is not a member nation of the European Union, which has dragged its feet for years on approving Turkey’s application for admission to the European body.
"Who are you to endorse a decision about Turkey?" Erdogan said, adding that the EP should consider the brutal police crackdown on protesters in Greece before criticizing Turkey on its own use of force.
The Turkish prime minister also had angry words for international media, who he said portrayed a false image of the protests, as if "the whole of Turkey is engulfed in flames." Erdogan was joined in that response by President Abdullah Gul, who urged international media not to put what’s happening in Turkey in the same category as the protests in other Middle Easter nations. "Especially foreign media outlets should be very careful about this," Gul told the Turkish Hurriyet daily newspaper.