Europe has failed on democracy and freedoms: Erdogan

Europe has failed on democracy and freedoms: Erdogan
Turkey's president has condemned violence seen in Paris over the weekend, criticising both police and protesters.
2 min read
09 December, 2018
Erdogan made the comments following protests in Paris [Getty]

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that "Europe has failed the class on democracy, human rights and freedoms" in reference to France's 'Gilet Jaunes' protests.

Erdogan addressed supporters in Istanbul as French riot police fought to contain thousands of yellow-vested protesters venting their anger against the government in a movement that has grown more violent by the week.

"We are against both the scenes of chaos caused by protesters and the disproportionate use of force against them. However, the view that's unfolding shows that Europe has failed the class on democracy, human rights and freedoms," Erdogan said.

"Those who incited animosity against refugees and hostility against Islam for the sake of political populism have fallen into their own trap. The walls of security and welfare they treasure so much have started to shake not by refugees or Muslims, but by their own citizens," he added.

Although Saturday's protest in the French capital started out quietly, tear gas choked the Champs-Elysees Avenue by early evening.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said that 135 people had been injured and 974 taken into custody amid protests around the nation.

Paris police headquarters counted 71 injuries in the capital, seven of them police officers.

In his speech on Saturday the Turkish president also took swipe at critics of his administration's human rights record.

"Televisions, newspapers are full of images of burning cars, looted businesses (and) police intervening against protesters in the most severe way," Erdogan said.

"Those who mocked our police, those who said our police inflicted cruelty, look at what their own police are doing now," he added.

Turkish police earlier this week arrested dozens of military personnel in connection with the country's 2016 failed coup.  Forty-one suspects had been detained by late Friday morning, according to state news agency Anadolu, after the Ankara public prosecutor ordered arrest warrants for 87 former non-commissioned officers in the Turkish airforce.

Around 80,000 people including military personnel have been arrested over alleged links to cleric Fethullah Gulen - a former ally of Erdogan who Ankara says orchestrated the failed putsch - under the post-coup state of emergency imposed nearly two years ago.

Amid international criticism, Ankara has insisted the raids are necessary to remove the "virus" caused by the Gulen movement's infiltration of key Turkish institutions.