Erdogan says Mubarak should go now
The pledge by the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, to stand down in September is not enough and he should leave his post immediately, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister, said on Wednesday.
“It is necessary to announce a road map and a schedule. If this schedule is announced, the masses will be satisfied,” Erdogan said on a state visit to Kyrgyzstan.
A day earlier, Erdogan had spoken out against Mubarak for the first time after days of silence from Ankara. “No government can remain oblivious to the democratic demands of its people,” he said during a parliamentary session, in an address punctuated by loud applause that was broadcast live on Arab TV and in Cairo's Tahrir Square. “There isn't a government in history that has survived through oppression. Know that governments that turn a blind eye to their people cannot last long.”
“It is very important to get over this period with a temporary administration,” the state-run Anatolian news agency quoted the prime minister as saying during a visit to Kyrgyzstan. “People expect Mubarak to take a much different step,” Erdogan said.
Turkey's regional role and attraction as a Muslim democracy that can deliver both political freedoms and economic well-being to its people has strengthened amid the unrest in Tunisia and Egypt, the UAEA-based newspaper The National wrote on Thursday.
Mehmet Sahin, a political scientist and Middle East expert at Ankara's Gazi University, said: “Turkey is being seen like a trademark. People do not want to live under a dictatorship, they want to live (in a country) like Turkey.”
The prime minister said he had watched Tuesday's events in Cairo on television late into the night, and it appeared to him that the Egyptian people would be satisfied only when a plan for an early transition of power was announced.
Led by a religiously conservative government under Erdogan, the prime minister, Turkey has undergone democratic reforms designed to take the country into the European Union while enjoying an economic boom that has almost doubled the average per capita income in the past five years.
Turkey has seen the rise of a new elite whose members are pious Muslims like Erdogan himself, but who compare their movement to Christian Democratic parties in Europe and reject the label of Islamism.
Erdogan's intervention plays to the considerable political capital he wields on the Arab streets, largely due to his strong language against Israel which began in January 2009 when he publicly chastised Israeli President Shimon Peres for attacks on the people of Gaza at a summit meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
As unrest spreads across the Middle East, many have pointed to Turkey's successful melding of a largely Muslim population with an officially secular and working democracy as a role model for what might come next. The solution, Erdogan said, was in swift elections and reforms that would support national unity, the TIME wrote.
Erdogan, who has been in power since 2002, refers to his ruling AK party as a force for democratic change.
Caption: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses lawmakers urging Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to meet his people's “desire for change”. (AFP photo)