Cyprus News | Erdogan and Gul – the Rift Between Them

Cyprus News | Erdogan and Gul - the Rift Between ThemCyprus News | Erdogan and Gul – the Rift Between Them

There appears to be a serious difference of opinion between Turkish President Abdullah Gul and the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, over the protests taking place all over Turkey during the last six days.

Almost half an hour after Erdogan’s departure to Morocco, President Abdullah Gul made a statement, his second in 48 hours. The first was on June 1, when he said he had held a telephone conversation with the prime minister, after which the police were withdrawn. In his second intervention, in contrast to what Erdogan had said, Gul underlined the need for different lifestyles living alongside each other, and asked for the “moderation of all parties,” which in theory included the prime minister himself. Gul also pointed out that the ballot box alone was not enough for a proper democracy.

Speaking to reporters at a joint press conference in Morocco, Prime Minister Erdogan was asked about Gul’s comments and he said he didn’t make any sense of the president’s remarks and then declined to further comment on the issue. Murat Yetkin published the following commentary in Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (04.06.13) under the title “Erdogan fails to get the point, Gul does” :

“Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan looked tense and tired during his Istanbul press conference before departing for Morocco on June 3. He got into row with reporters asking questions to him about the Taksim protest that has now spread across the country. They not only involve young protestors in street clashes with the police, but also drivers honking and flashing continuously, housewives inside and in front of their houses with a cacophonic band of pots and pans, and turning the lights of their houses on and off when the sun goes down.

In his four-day North Africa trip, Erdogan is going to talk about the merits of democracy in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Perhaps he will have to answer some questions about the state of democratic rights in Turkey.

The picture is becoming clearer with almost every hour. Erdogan fails to get the point, but Gul does. Gul sees that the protests have no precedent in Turkish history, and are no more about claiming back a park in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. They are about to turn into a fight for the lifestyles of a section of Turkish society that has tasted the secular and modern way of life and doesn’t want to lose it.

Erdogan’s insistence on getting his own plans implemented at all costs has turned a modest protest for a park into a nationwide social movement. The further toughening of his style will further politicize a social movement; that is what Gul is trying to avoid.”

Erdogan is seeking to be elected President in the future, with new powers similar to Putin’s in Russia. His reaction to the protesters has struck terror into some quarters in Turkey, fearing a move towards  totalitarianism and towards a police state. Perhaps the fact that the army is alleged to have refused to join the police during the protest should be a warning for the future.

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