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Turkey yields on park to cool unrest

– Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivered his most conciliatory speech since anti-government demonstrations began two weeks ago, saying plans to develop an Istanbul park are on hold and the message from protesters has been received.

Erdogan said there’ll be no redevelopment of Gezi Park in Taksim Square, where protesters have been gathered for more than two weeks, until a court rules on the issue, and after that only if the plan is approved in a public vote. Speaking at a meeting with officials from his party in Ankara, the premier urged the demonstrators to leave Friday, saying that would enable police to tackle “illegal groups” that have become involved.

The unrest has presented Erdogan with one of his biggest challenges since he took office more than 10 years ago, as protesters denounce what they say is the pro-Islamist leader’s autocratic style. The spectacle of tens of thousands marching in Istanbul and the capital Ankara, and police using tear gas and water cannons against them, has battered Turkish stocks and bonds.

Markets revived Friday, extending a rally since June 11 when police moved back into Taksim and clashed with protesters. The benchmark stock index added 4.4 percent at 5 p.m. in Istanbul, paring its loss this month to 7.3 percent. Yields on two-year lira bonds dropped 53 basis points to 6.21 percent, and the lira rallied 0.5 percent against the dollar.

Erdogan met late Thursday for four hours with a group including two representatives of Taksim Solidarity, which has spoken on behalf of the protesters who have filled Istanbul’s central square for the past two weeks, the official Anatolia News Agency said.

In Washington on Friday, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said “police made some mistakes” in their reaction to peaceful protesters, which are being investigated.

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