Istanbul (AsiaNews) - Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken into consideration the idea of a referendum on the development plan for Gezi Park, which sparked huge demonstrations in recent weeks and widespread criticism of his government.
At the same time, the leader of the AKP, said Taksim Square, the epicenter of the demonstrations should remain empty and be freed from crowds and barricades within 24 hours.
The proposal of a referendum emerged yesterday after the prime minister met some of the demonstrators. They said they were interested in the idea, but they have also confessed that they are not representative of anyone, having been randomly selected for the meeting with the government.
During the day, the police had attacked groups in Taksim square with water cannons and tear gas. But in the evening hundreds of protesters gathered again in a peaceful manner. This time the police remained vigilant but did not intervene.
In recent days, Erdogan said several times that he was "losing patience" with the protesters, whom he branded as "vandals". He replied to these accusations of authoritarianism stating that they had won the election and were supported by the majority of the people.
But the question of Gezi Park has become a focal point for all those who are dissatisfied with government policy based on strong business development and consumerism and a creeping Islamization of society. Several opposition politicians, lawyers and secular groups have joined the demonstrations in recent days. Yesterday at the rally, protesters waved flags and banners depicting the "secular" father of the nation, Kemal Ataturk (see photo).
The protesters are determined to continue rallies in Taksim Square. The European Union has invited Erdogan to open dialogue with them as "proof" of democracy and as a good omen for the coveted entry of Turkey into Europe. The dialogue with the square is also proposed by President Abdullah Gul, who is also a member of the AKP, but less intransigent than Erdogan.