Erdogan Returns to Turkey
Via the BBC: Defiant Turkish PM Erdogan urges end to protests.
He was greeted at the airport by a large pro-AKP crowd
An estimated 10,000 supporters of Mr Erdogan’s AKP party descended on the airport to welcome him home in the early hours of Friday.
It was the first major show of support for Mr Erdogan following a week of protests in which his opponents have called for him to resign.
However, there was some ominousness inherent in the situation. First, the following suggests more crackdowns (although after the bad press and apologies from the government, one would hope there would be more restraint):
Standing alongside his wife and government ministers on an open-top bus, he told the crowd: "These protests that are bordering on illegality must come to an end as of now."
More ominous, however, is the following:
Some of his supporters chanted: "Let us go, let’s crush Taksim."
Clashing mobs in the streets would be disastrous, to be sure. Thankfully, the PM responded:
"You have remained calm, mature and showed common sense," he said. "We’re all going to go home from here."
Of course, he isn’t backing down, either:
Speaking in Tunis earlier, Mr Erdogan acknowledged that police had used "excessive force" against activists at the original sit-in. But he said that a small group was now manipulating what had started as an environmental protest.
"Among the protesters there are extremists, some of them implicated in terrorism," he told reporters.
Mr Erdogan also defended the urban development plan for Gezi Park.
The real pressures are not the protestors at this point, but rather the following:
Turkey’s stock market dropped nearly 5% after his remarks.
Negotiations with the EU have stalled in recent years amid concerns over Turkey’s freedom of speech, treatment of religious minorities, women’s and children’s rights, civilian control of the military and long-running tensions over Cyprus.
It is worth noting for those who are unfamiliar with Turkish politics, the AKP is a pro-EU party.