Merkel’s criticism of Turkey exposes Germany’s unease with Turkey’s rise, Kurtulmuş says

18 July 2013 /ALİ ASLAN KILIÇ, ANKARA – A senior member of the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s negative attitude towards Turkey during the Gezi Park protests showed Germany’s uneasiness about the rising profile of Turkey.

AK Party Deputy Chairman Numan Kurtulmuş, who is responsible for economic affairs, said the protests came on the heels of a recent government tender to build Europe’s biggest airport with a 150 million passenger capacity and at a cost of $29 billion, which he said attracted worldwide attention.

“This explains German Chancellor Merkel’s negative attitude toward Turkey during the Gezi Park protests,” he told Today’s Zaman in an interview.

He asserted that the Gezi Park protests, sparked by outrage over excessive police action to oust a sit-in by environmentalists in İstanbul’s Taksim Square on May 31 and which have spread to dozens of cities across Turkey, were part of a plan to keep Turkey out of the game in such an important period of history in which the cards are being reshuffled in designing energy markets.

“Normally, I do not give too much credit to such conspiracy theories, but in the case of the Gezi Park protests, what we have before us is a well-organized and systematic operation. The aim of those who planned the Gezi Park protests was to sabotage Turkey’s political and economic stability, and social peace,” the AK Party official explained.

He also noted that part of the reason for the protests was to manipulate the upcoming presidential elections in Turkey as well as sidelining Turkey on the Syrian issue.

The AK Party official underlined that Turkey will overcome this process thanks to the strong desire for advanced democracy.

Kurtulmuş drew attention to the timing of the Gezi Park protests and said: “The protests sparked were sparked at a period when Turkey has started to eliminate the traces of coup period practices. Moreover, the way the provocations have been organized during the Gezi Park protests were very similar to the provocations that paved the way for the different forms of coups which we have experienced.”

The AK Party official also revealed that the government is preparing to amend a series of laws on fundamental rights and freedoms which have been restricted via anti-democratic practices imposed by the Sept. 12, 1980 junta.

“Of course, the old structures are showing resistance to our movement towards being an advanced democracy, but their resistance will not prevent both Turkey and the AK Party from making progress. Turkish democracy will emerge stronger out of this process,” he maintained. Kurtulmuş pledged that the government will implement reforms to meet the demands of religious people, Kurds, Alevis and non-Muslims, who have been victimized by a decades-long guardianship regime.

“We will not abandon our efforts to foster democracy, freedom, pluralism and participation. And we are doing this not because some international institutions asked for this but because we consider these principles fundamental human rights. We will now make the necessary legislative changes in order to compensate these people for the rights that were taken away from them. People believe that the AK Party is the only party which can achieve this. This is why they voted for it and continue to support it,” he added.