Erdogan calls for unified stand against terrorism
Speaking at his ruling Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) parliamentary group meeting days after a suicide bombing attack injured 32 people, including 15 police officers, in Istanbul's central Taksim Square, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan continued his tough anti-terror tone, urging all sectors of Turkish society and the international community to take a unified stand against terrorism. "No belief or ideology can justify such ruthlessness and lunacy," Erdogan said of Sunday's attack. "This was an inhumane attack, which is why it targeted not only Turkey and our nation but also humanity itself." Erdogan also reiterated his criticism of certain countries for failing to show the necessary determination against terrorism despite Turkey's urging. The situation of those who appeal to terrorism has always been miserable, Erdogan said, adding that his words are aimed as much inside Turkey as outside it. "Those who make political calculations based on terrorist attacks struggle in vain, and are engulfed in gross blindness," he said. "Those who exploit the terrorism issue for domestic political gain in fact serve the goals of terrorists." Stressing that trying to use terrorism to damage the government would show disunity and thus be a grave mistake, Erdogan also called on all Turkish political parties to avoid using terrorism and the fight against it as political fodder. Erdogan also asked non-governmental organizations and opinion leaders to make more contributions to Turkey's democratization, and to speak out loudly against terrorism. "If we backtrack from or delay our investment plans or social projects due to terrorist attacks, this means the terrorist groups win," he warned. "We've foiled their plans so far and will continue to do so. We will never give in to terrorism. We will make no concessions from democratization or the fight against terrorism." In a separate address to the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges' (TOBB) Trade and Industry Council, Erdogan said the need to reform the Board of Higher Education (YOK) is urgent, and will be part of a slate of proposed reforms following next year's general elections. YOK reforms will produce a new generation, Erdogan said, and will stem student migration from universities in Turkey's east to its west. Students in eastern Turkey will no longer flock to universities in the west, as they will have quality universities where they live, which will also help reduce educational costs, he added. Announcing that the government plans to hold parliamentary elections next June, Erdogan also urged more support from business leaders for the government's national unity and brotherhood project.