7 Jun 2013

Turkey’s Erdogan accuses EU of ‘double standards’

Turkey PM Tayyip Erdogan accuses the EU of “double standards” after a senior European Union official urges authorities to probe the excessive use of force by the police.

Mr Erdogan‘s comments have come after Stefan Fule, the EU enlargement commissioner, criticised the Turkish police’s harsh crackdown on protesters in the last week.

Mr Fule, who is responsible for the enlargement of the EU, said people in democratic societies have the right to hold peaceful demonstrations.

He said: “The duty of all of us, European Union members as much as those countries that wish to become one, is to aspire to the highest possible democratic standards and practices.

“These include the freedom to express one’s opinion, the freedom to assemble peacefully and freedom of media to report on what is happening as it is happening.”

However, Erdogan hit back today by criticising the European bloc for its own discrimination.

Where was the outrage over tear gas used in Greece and in London? Tayyip Erdogan

The EU, he said, also had a record of human rights problems, noting discrimination against some ethnic groups, including Roma, also known as Gypsies.

“Where was the outrage over tear gas” used at the New York Occupy movement, as well in Greece and in London, he asked.

Despite the recent protests, Mr Erdogan has said that Turkey remains committed to joining the EU.

He said: “We are determined to advance on the path of EU, but it is not possible for Turkey to continue with one-sided efforts.”

The speech came only a few hours after Erdogan returned to Turkey following a four-day trip to north Africa.

Bordering on illegality?

Met by more than 10,000 cheering supporters at the airport, Mr Erdogan delivered a speech in which he insisted the Turkish demonstrations were bordering on illegality.

Despite acknowledging that police might have used excessive force, he said: “No-one has the right to attack us through this.

“The secret to our success is not tension and polarisation.”

“The police are doing their duty. These protests, which have turned into vandalism and utter lawlessness must end immediately.”

In a week of demonstrations across the country, three people have been killed – two protesters and a policeman – and thousands wounded.

Turkish media were widely criticised for not covering the initial days of a violent police crackdown on demonstrators staging a sit-in in Taksim Square to protest a development plan that included a shopping mall.

The protesters have occupied Gezi Park for the past week. They have vowed to stay and prevent the construction project from going ahead and cutting down trees.