Turkish government rages at EU criticism

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an.

The Turkish government reacted furiously to a resolution adopted by the European Parliament, condemning Ankara for not being conciliatory in the face of protests that left several dead and thousands injured.  EURACTIV Turkey reports. 

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an rejected criticism after the European Parliament adopted yesterday (13 June) a resolution condemning the excessive use of violence against protestors.

"The European Parliament's resolution about us has no legitimacy for me," said Erdo?an, speaking shortly before the vote took place.

Erdo?an argued that violent incidents also took place in EU members, such as Britain during a G-8 protest the day before, as well as Greece during the anti-austerity protests in the past few years. Erdo?an expressed resentment towards the EU, which did not react to these incidents as it did to the ones that took place in Turkey.

"Britain is an EU member. Turkey is a negotiating country. How dare you adopt such a resolution about us? Do you think it is in your competency?" questioned Erdo?an.

The parliament expressed its "deep concern at the disproportionate and excessive use of force by the Turkish police in its response to the peaceful and legitimate protests in Istanbul’s Gezi Park," reads the text adopted, following a debate on the issue on Wednesday.

While welcoming the "moderate response" by President Abdullah Gül and the apologies to the injured protesters expressed by Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Ar?nç, MEPs "deplored the reactions of the Turkish Government and of Prime Minister Erdo?an, whose unwillingness to take steps towards reconciliation, to apologise or to understand the reactions of a segment of the Turkish population have only contributed to further polarisation."

Once the text was adopted, both the foreign and EU affairs ministries of Turkey promptly released statements, dismissing the resolution.

EU ‘has lost its mental faculties’

While noting that the EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and the Enlargement Commisssioner Štefan Füle gave "constructive messages" during the debate in the European Parliament, Turkish EU Minister Egemen Ba??? noted that some European officials and deputies were making "insolent and irresponsible statements as if they lost their mental faculties."

Ashton and Füle had called for engaging closer with Turkey in response to the recent developments, with the latter inviting the member states to unblock some negotiation chapters and accelerating membership talks.

Warning MEPs that "speaking about Turkey's internal affairs in such a comfortable and insolent way had a price," Ba??? urged them to avoid using "instruments of national and international conspiracies."

"It is in no-one's competency to accuse the Turkish Republic of resorting to violence," said Ba???, claiming that there was "no state violence in Turkey."

Ironically, the EU affairs minister also spoke of an "overwhelming leadership" in the face of a growing tendency of authoritarianism, which is considered to be a major factor underlying the protests in Turkey.

"Europe's most reformist and strong government and one of most charismatic and strong leaders on earth is on the job in Turkey. If they are worried about this, they will have to excuse us. Being overwhelmed by Tayyip Erdo?an's leadership is the problem of those who are overwhelmed," the statement read.

On the other hand, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu said that “Turkey was in no position to be taught a lesson by anyone”, accusing the MEPs for "trying to present marginal groups as innocent demonstrators."

His ministry considered the resolution "null and void" in a statement.

"Is Füle’s tweeting afterwards moral at all?"

Unlike Ba???, Füle's sympathetic comments about Turkey on Wednesday seemed to make little effect on the Turkish prime minister.

“They have this man in charge of enlargement. He can't put forward the slightest argument when he's in front of me. But he goes on tweeting afterwards. Is this moral at all?” said Erdo?an.

The Enlargement Commissioner visited Istanbul last week and attended a conference on EU affairs alongside Erdo?an, after meeting with the protestors in Gezi Park.

The messages conveyed there by Füle and Erdo?an differed significantly, and Füle tweeted that he was "disappointed by the lost opportunity at the Istanbul conference to reach out to those calling for respect and inclusive dialogue."

The nature of communication between Füle and Erdo?an was also invoked during the European Parliament debate on Wednesday, when several MEPs raised the issue that Erdo?an – who doesn't speak English – didn’t wear headphones to listen to the interpreter while the Commissioner was speaking.

"There was no disrespect showed to me from the Prime Minister Erdo?an. He listened carefully during the conference and also during our debate afterwards," Füle responded.

Background

A sit-in against plans to demolish the Gezi Park in Istanbul and replace it by the replica of historical barracks that existed there until the 1940’s sparked the fiercest anti-government protests in recent years over the weekend of 1 and 2 June in Turkey.

The EU expressed concern about the use of force by the police as the protest spread to more cities.

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