Turkey's intelligence service (MIT) has begun investigating alleged
foreign links to the anti-government protests which have been taking
place in the country over the last several weeks, Turkish daily Hurriyet reported on Saturday.
protests broke out some three weeks ago in Istanbul when police used
force and tear gas to disperse environmental activists demonstrating
against a government plan to develop a mosque and shops at Istanbul's'
Gezi Park in the city's Taksim Square.
The Turkish government,
however, has suggested that the protests are part of a plot against the
country, involving foreign governments and financial institutions.
Earlier this month, Hurriyet quoted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as hinting that Israel was "delighted" with the protests.
According to Hurriyet,
Erdogan said that "we had foreseen these events [the protests] as a
series of conspiracies three months ago," even if the way in which the
events unfolded was not predicted. "We had received some intelligence
reports," he said.
Officials in Ankara have said that foreign
governments are helping to foment unrest in order to slow down the
political and economic rise of Turkey.
MIT's findings on possible
international links to the "plot" were scheduled to be discussed at a
Turkish National Security Council Meeting on Tuesday, the paper
Saturday saw Turkish riot police fire water cannon to clear thousands of protesters from Istanbul's Taksim Square, the first such confrontation there in nearly a week.
the city of Samsun, a crowd of some 15,000 of Erdogan's AK Party
faithful cheered and waved Turkish flags as he called on the public to
give their answer to protests at the ballot box when Turkey holds
municipal elections next March.
The blunt-talking 59-year-old
said opponents both within Turkey and abroad had orchestrated the
demonstrations, saying an "interest rate lobby" of speculators in
financial markets had benefited from the unrest.
"Who won from
these three weeks of protests? The interest rate lobby, Turkey's
enemies," Erdogan said from a stage emblazoned with his portrait and a
slogan calling for his supporters to "thwart the big game" played out
"Who lost from these protests? Turkey's economy,
even if to a small extent, tourism lost. They overshadowed and stained
Turkey's image and international power," he said.
Herb Keinon and Reuters contributed to this report.