Turkish PM Erdogan agrees to meet with opposition protesters | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 10.06.2013
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Turkish PM Erdogan agrees to meet with opposition protesters

Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan has agreed to meet with protesters who have been occupying Istanbul's Taksim Square. His deputy, meanwhile, has said the government won't tolerate "illegal" demonstrations.

Erdogan will invite members of the protest movement to meet with him on Wednesday, though it is not immediately clear exactly which members.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc made the announcement Monday after a cabinet meeting.

"Our prime minister has given an appointment to some of the groups leading these protests … they will be briefed on the facts and our prime minister will listen to their thoughts," he told reporters.

No 'illegal' demonstrations

Arinc said the government would no longer tolerate "illegal" demonstrations and implied the occupation of Taksim and the adject Gezi Park would be over by the weekend.

"Illegal acts in Turkey from now on won't be allowed and whatever needs to be done according to the law will be done," Arinc said. "All necessary actions against illegal acts will have been completed, and we will see this all together, by the weekend."

Protests in Taskim had a relatively low turnout Monday, though Gezi Park remained occupied.

Three people have died and more than 5,000 people have been treated for injures or the effects of gas during the protests. The government says 600 police have also been hurt.

The unrest began May 31 in response to a violent police crackdown on a peaceful protest against government plans to reconstruct an Ottoman-era barracks in Gezi Park. The demonstrations grew into nationwide protests against Erdogan and what are seen as his increasingly authoritarian laws and attempts to impose Muslim values on the secular country.

Opposition responds

In response to a speech Sunday in which Erdogan threatened protesters by saying his patience "has a limit," main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said the prime minister must calm his tone.

"Policies that feed off tension will throw society into the fire," Kilicdaroglu, who chairs the Republican People's Party, is quoted by the daily Hurriyet newspaper as saying.

Kilicdaroglu's comments came shortly after President Abdullah Gul signed into law new measures restricting the sale of alcohol and banning its advertisement. The move has been seen by opposition protesters as a symbol of the government's increasingly authoritarian policies.

dr/kms (dpa, AP, Reuters, AFP)