Turkey's Erdogan 'running out of patience' with park protesters

June 13, 2013 at 10:19 AM
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ISTANBUL, Turkey, June 13 (UPI) -- Protesters camped in Istanbul's Gezi Park must leave because of the "thugs" and "vagabonds" in their midst, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

"We are running out of patience," Erdogan told party members Thursday in Ankara, Turkey's capital. "I am making this warning for one last time."

Gezi Park "stinks of pee," Erdogan said. "In fact, some of them even poo in there."

Peaceful protests that began in late May in opposition to tearing down the park to build a mall devolved into demonstrations against Erdogan's government that spread across Turkey.

While lashing out at more aggressive protesters, Erdogan told peaceful demonstrators they shouldn't complain about police response because they chose to be in the line of tear gas fire by associating with the wrong people and illegal groups.

"Where dry wood is burning, fresh wood will also burn unnecessarily," he said, vowing to roust those he called "thugs" and "vagabonds."

He ordered peaceful protesters to clear out of the park, leaving police alone with "illegal groups," CNN said.

"Gezi Park does not belong to occupiers," Erdogan said. "It belongs to Istanbul's people."

Erdogan's party organized counter-protests for the weekend so the "quiet majority" would have a voice and show the world "a real, true picture of Turkey," he said

The rallies will be held away from the anti-government protests to avoid possible confrontations, he said.

Potential negotiations between Erdogan and protest leaders fell apart Wednesday after many of the leaders walked away, expressing resentment over heavy-handed police measure, CNN said.

Erdogan criticized the European Union for a resolution it passed Thursday condemning Turkey's police crackdown on protesters and suppression of opposition voices.

"The European Parliament's decisions about us, I am not recognizing those decisions," he said. "How dare you make such decisions about my country?"

The 27-country bloc, which Turkey wants to join, demanded an investigation of Erdogan's hard-line response.

Erdogan, a Muslim facing the broadest challenge to his party in its 10 years in power, has said he remained committed to Turkey's secular laws and denied becoming more authoritarian.

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