Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday that protesters who opposed the felling of trees in İstanbul’s Gezi Park and initiated civic unrest in 2013 were supported by imperialist powers who wanted him ousted.
While addressing people in northeastern Trabzon province on Tuesday, Erdoğan claimed that his government is the most environmentalist of Turkish governments and denied that they were cutting down trees in Gezi Park in 2013.
Underlining that external powers wanted him to be ousted, he said the Gezi protests were used to initiate civic unrest by imperialists.
“[They said] we will finish Turkey off with the Gezi protests. They were backed by imperialists. Those imperial powers were using them. They kicked up a great fuss for moving 11 or 12 trees [in Gezi Park] from one place to another. Whereas, we have planted 2.5 million trees during our 15 years in power. I am not talking about young trees. Why? Because we are environmentalists.”
The Gezi Park protests were sparked in the summer of 2013 in protest of government plans to demolish Gezi Park in İstanbul’s Taksim neighborhood. The protests turned into anti-government demonstrations across Turkey due to the police’s use of violence against the protesters. At least 11 people were killed due to police violence during the protests.