PM Erdogan was in Kayseri for one of his “Respect the National Will” rallies. He continued to defy the Gezi Park protesters and made several accusations against those who have been protesting the destruction of green spaces and police brutality. He began his speech with an accusation against artists and intellectuals, belittling their views and referring to them as “elites who can not stand the equality of their vote with those of uneducated peasants” and continued to define democracy as the rule of at least a 50.01% majority.
He continued to claim that Anatolia and Thrace today have united against the “tyranny of rioters” and that his supporters are the real protesters, rising up against the “oppression” of the Gezi Movement. Previously when an opposition meeting was held at the Kazlicesme, Erdogan had said “a hundred thousand people would not fit there”, yet during his Kayseri speech he said “1.5 million people were chanting for AKP and they were heard from Beijing to New York from east to west.”
His speech then continued with accusations that the mainstream media were biased as they reported the protests and that the international media were guilty of misrepresenting the news from Turkey and portraying it as a crisis zone. “But I expect an answer from the people here, such an answer that it will be heard from Damascus, from Jerusalem, Baghdad, Beirut,” Erdogan said.
About the comments referring to Erdogan not listening to the youth in his country, he said “Are these people not young? I invited them and listened more than I ever listen to my cabinet. If they are young what are my supporters? If anyone has any opposition, the reaction-place is the ballot box, you have to wait till then and respect the ballot.”
Erdogan also continued to claim that the protesters violently attacked and destroyed property and the total damage caused by protesters was over 200 trillion Liras, when in fact that amount does not reflect reality and most of the damage was caused by police interventions.
Later on he continued his speech by referring to leftists – and especially the main opposition party, CHP –, saying that the leftists were responsible for all the troubles caused in Turkey and employing the old “Red scare” tactics once again after decades. Erdogan also said “of course I called my Minister of Interior and said to clean up Taksim square in 24 hours; should I have let those terrorist flags hang around and let them occupy the park? People were unable to visit the park. Occupation of parks is unconstitutional, they belong to everyone and must be open, we already showed enough patience for 17 days.” And yet currently, after the park was “cleaned” by police forces, civilians are not allowed to use the park and there are thousands of policemen guarding the park against civilians at all times.
About using the state budget for party purposes, Erdogan continued to defend his policies of distributing state aid before elections in his party’s name stating “those who defy the will of the people should also distribute pasta and rice to get the support of the people.” While state aid remains a very hot topic in national politics, it is also a new debate in the light of the AKP rallies of the last few weeks being state-sponsored, as there are now payment receipts from Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality with over 95,000€ used for last week’s Kazlicesme rally.
While the government had failed to prevent the deadliest terror attack in Turkey’s history about two months ago, the PM continued to blame opposition parties and NGOs for failing to show reaction to the attacks. Yet they had severely criticized the government’s failure to prevent chaos taking place in Reyhanli, as well as the media ban on news of the bombings that was issued later on.
As his closing remarks he stated that they would continue to show signs of patience – tacitly threatening, however, that some day the opposition will pay for all the things that have happened. For the first time in weeks, he did not refer to the unpopular fake evidence and the fabricated stories about alcohol parties and orgies in mosques. Yet the exaggeration of numbers was still present during the rally.