Turkey's EU Minister Has a Change of Heart for Occupy Gezi?

Egemen Bagis, the Turkish minister for E.U. affairs and chief negotiator, wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times last week.

Bagis argued that the Gezi Park protests "prove Turkish society's European identity."

"If there is one major reason behind the recent peaceful protests, it is because a vibrant civil society has flourished in Turkey, thanks to the opportunities we have provided to our people," he wrote.

The surprising article has been a target for criticism and even mocking in the past week. Regarding Bagis' recent remarks in the Turkish media which described the protests in a much more negative way, several pundits argued the article was either insincere or he just changed his mind completely.

Take a look at some of his recent remarks and decide yourself:

  • "I kindly ask from all of our citizens who participated in those protests: Please go back to your homes. From now on, the state will consider anybody who is there as a terrorist." (June 15)
  • "Their goal is to stir up trouble in Turkey, stop its rise, raise the interest rates and destroy the environment of confidence and stability ... In reality, this is an effort to trigger a movement that can lead to regime change in Turkey. It got materialized after -at least- six months of preparation. We have documents to prove this." (June 17)
  • He defended the police, who were accused of abuses and brutality, by arguing that other countries also use excessive force in the face of such protests. "These protests are not about a spontaneously developed environmental concern. We will prove that they were planned months, even years before," he added. (June 25)
  • "Some people (in the world) are uncomfortable about Turkey's development and progress. This is why they tried to stop Turkey with Gezi Park protests ... It shouldn't be forgotten that they think they lost the first round. So they will try to stir up trouble through their local proxies over and over again," he said. (July 24)
  • "They have attempted to turn Taksim into Tahrir. Some people tried to plot against Turkey, but our nation rejected them with its firm stance. I can understand the foreign forces who are uncomfortable as Turkey gets bigger and richer, but I can't understand our own people being pawns for them." (July 26)
  • "It seems to me that some people are seeking to do outside the ballot box what they cannot do at the ballot box." (July 27)
  • He praised Turkish security forces, again, by suggesting that Turkey didn't turn into another Egypt thanks to its police. (August 3)