Erdogan Defends Response to Protests

Fan of tear gas and riot police


Istanbul, Turkey (CNN) — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan defended on Friday his government's handling of the protests that erupted in Istanbul's Taksim Square over plans to bulldoze the city's last green space to make way for a shopping mall.

The government has "no problem in terms of democratic demands" and "we are not against environmentalism," Erdogan told a European Union conference here. "What we are against is terror, is vandalism, is violence, and to threaten others for freedom.

If protests like those that took place here had taken place in European countries, "I am sure that they would be dealt with in a harsher way," Erdogan said.