Turkey 'not second-class democracy,' Ankara tells US

AFP , Wednesday 5 Jun 2013

In phone call with US state secretary, Turkish FM tries to mitigate US concerns over reports of excessive violence in ongoing popular protests

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has contacted US Secretary of State John Kerry to object to recent statements from Washington expressing concern over Turkey's handling of mass anti-government protests, a foreign ministry diplomat told AFP Wednesday.

"Turkey is not a second-class democracy," Davutoglu told Kerry in a phone call late on Tuesday, the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

Kerry on Monday said he was concerned by reports of excessive use of force by Turkish police to quell the biggest protests since Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's decade in power, urging all sides to "avoid any provocations or violence."

Davutoglu assured Kerry an investigation was under way into the police response, the ministry source said.

The diplomat added that the foreign minister told Kerry the protests were not "extraordinary," comparing them to the Occupy Wall Street movement that sprang up in the United States in 2011.

On Tuesday, Deputy Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Arinc apologised to those injured after police used tear gas and water cannon against the protesters and said the government had "learnt its lesson," in comments that were welcomed by the White House.

NATO-member Turkey is a key regional ally for the United States and has backed it notably in opposing President Bashar al-Assad in Syria's civil war.

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