Erdogan address rallies in two cities lost to electoral rivals in 2009.
IZMIR – Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan focused on a message of national unity during an election rally in the western city of Izmir on Sunday.
Following an earlier rally in the neighboring city of Manisa, held as part of Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party local election campaign, the prime minister said:
"Turkey should not be a country of conflicts. We ask all our people to take a step and put privileges aside. Nobody should resort to bothering or humiliating any segment of society."
Erdogan added: "A citizen can ethnically be of Turk, Kurd, or any other origin and religiously Sunni or Alawite; neither single ethnic group or religious group is superior or privileged in Turkey anymore."
The Manisa rally earlier in the day heard Erdogan compare “Gulen-linked bureaucrats”, who allegedly wiretapped senior Turkish officials, to the alleged ‘Ergenekon’ deep-state conspiracy.
The prime minister said his government would take all necessary steps to rid Turkey of the ‘parallel state’ led by U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen.
"We will fight neo-Ergenekon led by the man in Pennsylvania [Gulen] as we fought the Ergenekon deep-state," said Erdogan.
Erdogan said the Gulen movement's alleged wiretapping of top officials, including himself and the president, make them a national security threat which the government will take all necessary steps to combat.
He also warned the electorate against "tricks" during upcoming March 30 municipal elections, which he claimed are likely to be played by Gulen movement members.
Erdogan's AK Party lost control of Manisa and Izmir in the 2009 elections to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Republican People’s Party (CHP) respectively.
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