ANKARA, June 1 (RIA Novosti) – Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan admitted on Saturday that the use of tear gas by police at a protest against the demolition of Gezi Park in central Istanbul was a mistake, but said there will be no step back from the project.
"Unfortunately, there have been mistakes in the actions of the security forces, especially with regard to use of tear gas. This issue is being investigated in the ministry. When the protests exceeded the bounds of reason, we also crossed the line,” Erdogan said at the 20th congress of Turkey's Exporters Assembly.
The Turkish premier said he would press ahead with the plans to redevelop Gezi Park near Istanbul's famous Taksim Square. The controversial project is aimed at easing congestion around Taksim Square but also involves rebuilding old Ottoman barracks and creating a shopping mall in the park, one of the few green areas left in central Istanbul.
The renovation plans have sparked violent clashes in central Istanbul, where protesters have been campaigning for the past five days. The premier has called for an immediate end to the protests.
Turkish police retreated from Istanbul's Taksim Square on Saturday afternoon. State media reports said officers have removed barricades after scuffles with protesters.
The use of tear gas in Turkey has been condemned by Amnesty International that said it “breaches international human rights standards” and “constitutes a serious danger to health.”