June 6 - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan says he will move forward with plans to develop an Istanbul park despite a week of violent clashes, and protests against his government. Deborah Gembara reports.
Unbowed by days of violent clashes and protests, Tayyip Erdogan says plans to turn an Istanbul park into a shopping center are going forward. SOUNDBITE: Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, Saying (Turkish) "Before the elections in 2011, I promised to achieve these projects. I stated then that 7 great projects will see the light in Istanbul." The Turkish Prime Minister's announcement, which was made during a trip to Tunisia, is already rankling Turkish citizens. SOUNDBITE: Istanbul Resident Feza, saying: "It has to be, it has to stay as a park." SOUNDBITE: Protester Elif saying: "I think he is kidding just because he can't get what he wants anymore." Plans to develop the park --- which is a popular venue for political rallies triggered protests throughout the country --- and point to mounting anger over Erdogan's leadership --- which some have described as authoritarian. SOUNDBITE: PROTESTER ELIF SAYING: "This is not about just trees. This is bout our souls." Erdogan attributed the unrest back home to "terror groups" he says manipulated what started out as an environmental campaign. SOUNDBITE: Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, Saying (Turkish) "There are obvious bad intentions. We will achieve this project in order to protect the environment. because, the term environment does not only mean trees but also history, culture… all these things are complementary. But protecting the environment does not mean removing pavements, throwing stones, causing fire or destroying bus stations." He returns to Turkey on Thursday and is expected to be forced to answer for a police crackdown on protesters that ended with more than 4,000 people injured across the country.