Increasingly influential in the Muslim world, the Turkish Prime Minister speaks candidly about what must change in the face of the popular revolt in the Middle East.
BISHKEK- On an official visit to Kyrgzstan, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke at length Wednesday for the first time publicly about the situation in Egypt, telling Turkish journalists that Middle East leaders must respond to the popular calls for democratic reforms.
The Egyptian military has asked people to return home, but clashes continue. What's your perspective on the situation? To resist the will of the people is like trying to make a river change its course. Whatever that river requires, sooner or later, it will get. I have no intention of interfering in Egypt's domestic politics. But for decades there has been frustration in the Middle East. The people of the region have suffered. We are not a country that can sit back and be a spectator to events in the Middle East. People there ask us for our opinion.
Do you think things have passed the point of no return? That is the way it looks.
Could this spread to other places? What are you going to do with the Palestine documents published by Al Jazeera? The documents on Egypt, likewise. People there don't just see these documents, they are living them. At a 2,500-person conference in Sharm el Sheikh, a woman stood up, a journalist, and asked me: How many weeks does it take for elections to take place in your country? I told her ‘We get conclusive results within 24 hours, but we'll know what the situation is by 10 or 11pm on Election Day". She said ‘With us, it takes a month".
What did you make of the Egyptian military's statement? I followed what was happening until late at night. This statement was deemed insufficient by the hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Cairo's square. The people expect (Egyptian President Hosni) Mubarak to take a very different kind of step. The present government doesn't inspire confidence as to the swift transition to democracy. A roadmap, a schedule is needed. If they announce a schedule, the masses will be satisfied. If they don't, they will be frustrated. I think it is very, very important that this transition period is managed by a temporary administration. Because trust is key. There are steps that need to be taken to establish this. I hope that the bloodshed and deaths in Egypt will stop. More than 100 people have died. It is not good for this to continue. But the statement by the military is significant and meaningful. It is relevant to the future of Egypt. The present attitude of the police there is also significant.
Read the original story in Turkish