Erdoğan mobilizes supporters in Germany against Gezi protests, Egypt coup
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan throws flowers at his supporters at a rally in İstanbul’s Kazlıçeşme Square in this June 16 file photo. (Photo: Today's Zaman, Mehmet Ali Poyraz)
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has again condemned those who took to the streets for weeks to stage anti-government protests in Turkey as well as a coup that ousted Egypt's first democratically elected president -- this time at a rally in Germany.
Turks living in Germany voiced their support for Erdoğan at a rally on Sunday in Dusseldorf in response to the harsh criticism he received during the Gezi Park protests, which began in late May in protest of government plans to demolish the park in İstanbul's Taksim Square.
The rally, which was held in Germany as part of counter-demonstrations to the Gezi park protests, was organized by the Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD) in Germany and reportedly attracted approximately 50,000 people from various parts of Germany and Europe.
Addressing the rally called “Respect for Democracy” via video conference, Erdoğan, who did not directly mention the Gezi protests, spoke about the years-long oppression felt in Turkey and said Turkey is no longer the same country it once was.
“Believe me, they wanted to make us live in our own land, which we inherited from our ancestors, and martyrs, as foreigners for decades. They humiliated our values for years. They despised our beliefs, ignored our choices, desires, demands and expectations. Regarding democracy as a privilege for themselves, they wanted to insult us by calling us shepherds, peasants, sheep... This is their sole aim,” said Erdoğan.
Erdoğan maintained that those who cannot accept election results and democracy believe that they can get results by occupying the streets, plundering them or insulting people.
“They want to subdue us by attacking our mosques, women wearing headscarves, religious people and our values. Do not worry. Turkey is no longer the country it once was. Turkish people protect its country, government, democracy and the future. Our people no longer allow faits accomplis and horribleness. Our citizens all around the world, like in Germany, our relatives and brothers protect democracy,” said Erdoğan.
Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) had been strongly criticized by many EU countries due to its uncompromising attitude during the Gezi Park protests. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's criticism sparked a harsh reaction as Berlin blocked the opening of Chapter 22, which addresses regional policy, in Turkey's EU accession bid over Ankara's crackdown on anti-government protests.
Ankara and Berlin subsequently summoned each other's ambassadors for tit-for-tat reproaches in an escalating row. The disagreements cooled following several talks between Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and his counterpart, Guido Westerwelle.
According to Cengiz Aktar, a well-known Turkish columnist, the rally is not a development that will soften the already strained ties between Turkey and Germany.
"German politicians are uneasy over Erdoğan's show of strength during rallies held in Germany since 2008. Erdoğan is addressing Turks who are the citizens of Germany like a German politician. This situation creates discomfort in Germany and in general in Europe. However, this rally is not the first one and will not be the last,” added Aktar.
Germany hit back at a speech Erdoğan made in Dusseldorf in 2011 when the Turkish prime minister said that Turks in Germany should learn Turkish before German and resist assimilation.
Erdoğan: Those who don't condemn Egypt coup give support to it
While addressing the rally, Erdoğan also condemned the military coup in Egypt which ousted Mohammed Morsi last Wednesday, stressing that “those who don't openly term the army intervention in Egypt a ‘military coup,' give support to it.”
The Turkish government has not only adopted a strong stance against the military takeover in Egypt but also to countries that did not condemn it, especially the European Union.
Erdoğan sai a bid Turkey does not welcome governments coming to power by such methods. “We don't respect those who do not respect the people's will because we paid a big price. We don't want our Egyptian brothers to pay the same price,” Erdoğan said during the rally.
“We are against such practices as we have been the victims of such these coups,” he added.
Erdoğan strongly criticized Western nations, particularly the European Union, for not terming the army intervention a “military coup” and said this stance doesn't fit Western values.
Erdoğan was alluding to last month's criticism of Turkey by the EU after police used heavy-handed methods to quell the protests linked to Gezi Park. For days, Erdoğan criticized the EU for siding with the protesters and blasted a decision by the European Parliament rebuking Ankara for its handling of the unrest.
Erdoğan urged the EU to again read its “EU acquis,” a lengthy charter that governs EU values and norms.
Erdoğan also added that there is a clear difference in understanding of democracy between Turkey and those countries that support the military government in Egypt. “At this point, we are not obliged to direct our understanding of democracy according to the will of those countries,” said Erdoğan.