Turkish press split between Erdogan and protesters

image captionProtesters clash with riot police during protests in Istanbul's Taksim Square

There's a clear divide in the Turkish press between those who oppose the anti-government protests centred on Taksim Square in Istanbul and those who see the demands of the demonstrators as justified.

Commentators who side with the ruling AKP party continue to see the unrest as a plot to unseat the government, while the others blame Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for escalating a crisis that he could have ended "with just one sentence".

Reha Muhtar in centre-right Vatan

The democratic protests have delivered their message... From now on, continuing them will not benefit the demonstrators or their democratic demands. This will not be good for Turkey, the environment, the trees or people's lifestyles... Ending protests is also a democratic practice.

OK, the youngsters have done the right thing in Taksim's Gezi Park. We should appreciate that. But we are really fed up with the rose-colored dreams that make a Tahrir out of Taksim and a Turkish Spring out of the Arab Spring... To assume that the protests will put an end to AKP's rule would be to misunderstand the past 10 years of Turkey's history.

Those who caught an opportunistic wave have turned an environmental action into a regime problem... They wanted to turn Turkey into Syria. All these scenarios are driven by old political forces who want to regain power and rule both politics and the economy. They have ignored Turkey and the feelings of its people. They thought that the country was just Taksim square.

What is most worrying for me though is the way Erdogan, his government, and his supporters have interpreted the protests: A conspiracy orchestrated by "dark powers that want to halt Turkey's progress". Erdogan, in particular, condemned something he called "the interest lobby", or those who supposedly profit from the high interest rates in Turkey. It was not very clear how he connected all the left-wing groups in Taksim and elsewhere - from Leninists to Maoists and even "anti-capitalist Muslims" - to this capitalist plot.

Officials should be held accountable, starting from the politicians, for the excessive use of force by the police against those who were holding a peaceful protest. This will ensure that similar incidents will not be repeated... The challenge for the government is coming from the young generation, which insists on the establishment of a participatory democracy, not from those who allegedly plan coups.

The prime minister wants to impose his lifestyle on every group of society... He intimidates journalists, artists, intellectuals, businessmen, mainstream media bosses and the general managers of banks... Democracy and freedom is also a lifestyle, and democracies are protected by laws, not by rules.

For the last three years, apart from some prominent exceptions such as the 2010 referendum [to change the constitution] and the recent attempt to solve the Kurdish problem, I have been criticising the ruling party again and again because of diluting the standards of democracy, and the AKP leader for an aggressive style that divides the country.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no power in this country that can prevent the terrible things that are going on. On the contrary, the prime minister has almost orchestrated this outcome by maliciously escalating the crisis, which he could have ended with just one sentence.

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