Turkey PM: Protests ‘No Turkish Spring’


Turkey's prime minister condemns the anti-government protests in Turkey, now in their fourth day, saying they do not constitute a Turkish Spring.

At a news conference before a trip to Morocco, PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the protests were organised by extremists and accused the opposition of provoking "his citizens".

The protests initially targeted plans to build on a treasured Istanbul park.

They have spread into nationwide anti-government unrest. Protesters clashed with police again on Monday after more overnight violence in Istanbul.

Police used tear gas to stop a group of demonstrators marching on the prime minister's office in Istanbul, the private Dogan news agency reports.

Officers also reportedly fired teargas and water cannon at hundreds of demonstrators in the capital Ankara on Monday.

Mr Erdogan said during a televised news conference: "There are those attending these events organised by extremists. This is not about Gezi Park anymore. These are organised events with affiliations both within Turkey and abroad.

"The main opposition party CHP has provoked my innocent citizens. Those who make news [and] call these events the Turkish Spring do not know Turkey."

Protesters say the Turkish government is becoming increasingly authoritarian.

They fear Mr Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) is trying to impose conservative Islamic values on the officially secular country and infringe on their personal freedoms, correspondents say.

Officials say more than 1,700 people have been arrested in demonstrations in 67 towns and cities, though many have since been released.

Late on Sunday, the White House said in a statement that all parties should "calm the situation", and reaffirmed that peaceful demonstrations were "part of democratic expression".

The US previously criticised the security forces for their initial response to the protest.

Story source: BBC