In a speech delivered during an Ombudsman Symposium, Erdoğan accused the EU of misleading the public on developments in Turkey, even after he said the country had patiently explained the issue of arrested and convicted journalists. He also added that the use of tear gas during the Gezi protests was “in line with the EU acquis.”
“About the issue of arrested and convicted journalists, Europe and world public opinion has been misinformed completely in a systematic way. The same spheres are again informing [the world] in a very misleading way about the issue of freedom of expression in Turkey,” Erdoğan said.
“Likewise, the world and European public opinion have been systematically misled on the issues of intervention in societal events and the use of fundamental rights and freedoms,” he added.
The prime minister also gave examples of European police interventions to back up these claims. “For example, during a trip, when I was in Germany, some people headed toward us. German police immediately advanced on them, grabbed their wrists, folded their arms, made them lie down and kicked them. We have altogether watched what we saw in the United Kingdom, London. Similarly, we have seen that in France,” he said.
“We do not take these bad examples as examples; but our police have been beaten, most of them have acted tolerantly in their position until the last moment. Tear gas already exists in the EU acquis communitaire,” Erdoğan said.
“But protesters use real bullets against police; what should be said to this? What will the police do against this?” he added, despite no known recent instances of Turkish protesters firing on police. His comment, however, might have been in response to the killing of Gezi protester Ethem Sarısülük, who was shot at point-blank range by officer A.Ş. at the beginning of June in Ankara in what authorities claimed was an act of self-defense.
‘I am crazy about greenery’
Erdoğan also touched on environmentalism, a hot topic on Turkey’s agenda since the Gezi unrest, again accusing Europeans of holding double standards. “Everywhere in Europe, when necessary, you pull out trees, take them from somewhere and transfer them somewhere else. We see this all the time. There is no such understanding saying ‘trees cannot be pulled out.’ Environmental technology has advanced to this extent,” he said.
“I am a fan of greenery, I am crazy about greenery. I love this thing and believe me, it would be a great injustice to [be] an ‘environmental enemy,’” he said.
During the same event, Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek also took the opportunity to criticize the EU. “I am complaining about the attitude of the EU to the ombudsmans. Because the philosophy that embodies this institution is law, justice, honesty and transparency. Unfortunately, for the past 50 years, we have had very serious complaints against Europe,” Çiçek said.
He also lashed out at Europe over its perceived reluctance to fight against terror and its inaction in Syria. “The most significant ombudsman is the public conscience. But this public conscience was also hurt in the face of developments in Syria,” Çiçek said. “What is the difference if I die in a chemical weapon attack or in fire from a machine gun?”