Erdoğan urges Mubarak to heed people’s call for change

Erdoğan urges Mubarak to heed people’s call for change

Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

February 02, 2011, Wednesday/ 17:41:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urged Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to listen to Egyptians and respond immediately to their demands because freedom should not be postponed.

“Mubarak, we are human beings. We are not immortal. We will die one day, and we will be questioned for the things that we left behind. The important thing is to leave behind sweet memories. We are for our people. When we die the imam will not pray for the prime minister or for the president, but he will pray for a human being. It is up to you to deserve good prayers or curses. You should listen to the demands of the people and be conscious of the people and their rightful demands,” Erdoğan said while addressing his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) parliamentary group.

‘You should listen to the people and their rightful demands. ... You should take the necessary steps to satisfy the Egyptian people’s demands first without providing an opportunity for those who have other plans for Egypt. Demands for freedom cannot be postponed and cannot be neglected,’ Erdoğan says

He added that the demands of the Egyptians for reform and change should be answered without hesitation. “You should take the necessary steps to satisfy the Egyptian people's demands first without providing an opportunity for those who have dark scenarios for Egypt. Demands for freedom cannot be postponed and cannot be neglected,” Erdoğan said. The prime minister also urged Egyptians to act with dignity and refrain from violence. “Egypt is a country of civilizations. On this basis I want to address our Egyptian brothers. During this process stay away from guns, bind yourselves to your culture and your history and conduct your struggle for freedom with dignity. This is your most democratic right. Do not forget that even if a single policeman or a single soldier or a single civilian dies in Egypt, a piece of the heart of the Turkish nation will be thrown away. We don't want anyone in Egypt to be hurt even slightly. The power of the people and democracy should come in a responsible, earnest way,” Erdoğan said.

Erdoğan's speech breaks the silence on the part of the Turkish government since the beginning of the protests, first in Tunisia and then in Egypt.

Critics at home said the cautious stance is at odds with the government’s aspirations to turn Turkey into a leading regional and global actor. The messages from Erdoğan are significant because he is greatly admired in the streets of Arab and Muslim countries, mainly because of his outspoken and critical stance toward Israel since its war on Gaza. Many in the Arab world also look to Turkey, a progressive, predominantly Muslim nation that is also emerging as an economic power, as a cultural model. The country has in the past few years played an intermediary role in the Middle East, trying to broker peace between Israel and Syria and resolve Iran’s nuclear dispute with the West.

Erdoğan in his speech to the deputies also pointed out it will be impossible for countries to achieve a better future as long as internal problems remain and national unity cannot be assured. “We urge national unity in Palestine. We urge national consensus in Lebanon. We tried to contribute to the democratic consensus in Iraq. We always want to improve democracy in our region because whatever we want for ourselves we want the same for our brothers,” Erdoğan stressed, adding that his party will continue to be the voice of oppressed people.

Erdoğan noted the AK Party always sides with rights and freedoms and that it is impossible it would keep silent about anything unjust, not only in the Middle East but in the whole world.

He added when the AK Party was starting its journey its slogan was “Enough, the nation will have the final say” and that the party has always remained loyal to this slogan.

He added that whatever they want for themselves, they demand the same for others and that they will continue their efforts to prevent clashes with neighbors. “We want freedom, justice, democracy, stability, peace and development for ourselves and for others,” he said.

Erdoğan said any power that is closing its ears to the demands of the people will not last long and that a state is meaningful only if it acts for its people within an ethical framework. Erdoğan also noted the importance of stability but added that it can be achieved only by democracy. “We never believed that radicalism will come from democracy. Stability can only be assured by democracy. Tolerance and consensus can be reached only by democracy. There is no reason to be afraid of the will of the people based on free, democratic and just elections. The common sense and common conscience of people do not make any mistakes,” he said, adding that it takes 24 hours to get election results in Turkey and that any election in which it takes a week for the results cannot be called an election.

He noted that they will continue to stand by the brotherly Egyptian and Tunisian peoples and will continue to share their concerns and happiness as well. “Our biggest demand is for the realization of reform, ensuring calm and the continuation of unity. My hope for Tunisia is that the new government answers the demands of Tunisians for more participation and a new development program,” he pointed out. Erdoğan also mentioned the future of the Middle East by saying that it is the center of many ancient civilizations and has contributed a great deal to the development of the common heritage of humanity, but today there are some forces that would like to frame the Middle East as the opposite of what it is.

“Unfortunately, the Middle East’s name has been mentioned with regard to human rights violations, tears, corruption and blood. We think the people of the Middle East and the Arab nations do not deserve this. The Middle East has the potential and the energy with its dynamic population to re-establish the same level of civilization as in the past. It can really be the pioneer of a new civilization based on an open mind and freedom. This is how we reassess the recent developments,” he said.

Meanwhile, Erdoğan has postponed a visit to Egypt scheduled for next week. Speaking to reporters later in the day, he said he would visit Egypt when conditions return to normal there.

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