Despite the protests in Istanbul’s Taksim Square and elsewhere, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan insists the plan to redevelop a park which was at the origin of the demonstrations will go ahead.
He returns to the country on Thursday evening from his North African tour as protesters remain in the streets almost a week since the unrest began.
Erdogan has accused what he calls “terror groups” of manipulating what had started as an environmental campaign.
Speaking from Tunisia before his departure, he remained as condemnatory as ever, although unlike on previous occasions he confined his comments to a group of demonstrators. Earlier in the week he described the protesters in general as looters.
He condemned demonstrators’ tactics as “burn and destroy”.
“I insist that there are extremists among the protesters who are involved in terrorism and as you know, an attack took place against the US embassy in Turkey,” he said, referring to a suicide bomb attack back in February.
So far the prime minister has shown no sign of emulating his deputy who apologised for the initial police crackdown on peaceful protesters.
In another development, President Abdullah Gül has reportedly ordered an inquiry into the police crackdown on the original protests.
In what looked like an attempt to grab more international attention, supporters of one political party took their anti-government protest to the US embassy in Ankara.
Given the demonstrators’ defiance and Erdogan’s intransigence, the prime minister is likely to be returning from abroad to a tense stand-off.