President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday harshly criticized the European Union for its tolerance of the PKK after its supporters set up a tent and hung banners of the terrorist organization and its imprisoned leader Abdullah Öcalan. Speaking at an education conference in Istanbul yesterday, Erdoğan asked why Europe is not bothered by terrorist attacks in Turkey as opposed to those in Paris.
"You see what is happening with the EU. Prime Minister [Ahmet Davutoğlu] went to negotiations with the EU. The PKK set up a tent behind the building where the negotiations took place," Erdoğan said. Responding to criticism from some EU leaders, Erdoğan said: "They said: 'The president reacted.' What should I have said? Is this even an alliance?" PKK supporters were forced to take down their PKK banners and flags in Brussels after a warning from Davutoğlu to EU leaders. The supporters, however, hung their banners again after Davutoğlu returned. Davutoğlu expressed his "deep disappointment" over some EU countries' stance on the PKK on Friday: "When we're mourning the death of 35 civilians who were killed in a terrorist attack, people from the same terrorist organization were allowed to set up tents and wave their flags right outside this building."
Davutoğlu called on the world to not stay indifferent to terrorist organizations.
"The pain that our nation suffers is due to the implementation of unscrupulous plans. Terrorist organizations, whose names are different but have the same targets, are being used as a tool to put these plans into effect," Erdoğan said, and added that the country "will not surrender to the agenda of terrorism."
He said that some want Turkey to be "pushed into a corner" and added that the country will continue doing whatever is on its agenda and "defeat terror."
Tourists and locals have hung Turkish flags and left various notes expressing solidarity with the victims, at the scene of Saturday's suicide bombing in Istanbul's central İstiklal Avenue, which killed four people and injured dozens.
The notes read, "We are here, not afraid," "We will not get used to terror," "We are not going anywhere" and "We will not surrender to terrorism."
Carnations and candles were also laid at the scene of the bombing to pay respect for the victims.
The perpetrator of the attack was identified following a DNA test as Mehmet Öztürk. He is believed to have links with DAESH.
"The terrorist who carried out the Taksim attack was Mehmet Öztürk, who was born in 1992. Current findings indicate that the terrorist is linked with the DAESH terrorist organization," said Interior Minister Efkan Ala.
Saturday's suicide bombing on Istanbul's main shopping avenue, popular with locals and tourists, left Turkey reeling from the second such attack within a week.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu denounced the suicide bombing as "inhumane" and reiterated that Turkey would continue its struggle against "centers of terrorism." He also extended his condolences to the families of victims and wished the injured a speedy recovery.
"On behalf of my country, nation and government, I condemn the murderers who committed this atrocious attack which directly targeted people without any discrimination, as well as all traitors who supported and instigated them to carry out such an inhuman act," said Davutoğlu. He also vowed that Turkey would continue its fight against terrorism with the same determination "until it is completely eradicated."
A recent car bomb attack carried out by the PKK terror organization in Ankara's central Kızılay Square killed 35 civilians on March 13. On Feb. 17, 29 people were killed in Ankara by a car bomb attack carried out by a hardline PKK offshoot called TAK, or the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons.
The Turkish Health Ministry said in a statement on Sunday that 12 of the people injured in the attack were being treated at hospitals. The statement added that four of the wounded were in intensive care.
Three of the victims killed in the explosion were Israeli citizens. The Israeli tourists who died were a 40-year-old from Tel Aviv and a 70-year-old and 60-year-old from Dimona, reported Israeli media.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said late Saturday it was "still unclear whether the attack targeted Israelis."
ISRAELI GENERAL DIRECTOR OF FOREIGN MINISTRY TO VISIT ISTANBUL
Dore Gold, the general director of the Israeli foreign ministry, has decided to cut short his trip to the U.S. due to the terror attack that rocked Istanbul on Saturday. Gold will arrive in Istanbul today, marking the first high level diplomatic visit from Israel to Turkey since the Mavi Marmara crisis in 2010.
Gold had flown to the U.S. for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference and is scheduled to visit the wounded Israeli citizens in the hospital and then hold talks with Turkish officials, Haaretz reported.
Gold and his Turkish counterpart Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu previously met in Rome in June 2015 in efforts to normalize diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The German embassy and school in Istanbul were to remain closed on Monday, according to a letter from the school administration. The school is located near İstiklal Avenue where the bombing took place.
German diplomatic missions and schools were closed last week in Istanbul and Ankara following what was described as a "concrete" terrorism threat, apparently from the DAESH terrorist group.
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