By Mick Krever, CNN
Amid criticism over Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s response to a devastating mine disaster, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview that the Erdogan is “always with the people.”
An official period of mourning is underway in Turkey after its recent mine disaster; nearly 300 miners were killed after a fire broke out on Tuesday.
“This is a very sad event – one of the most tragic accidents that happened during our republican era,” Davutoğlu told Amanpour in London. “All the things, all the efforts will be done to check what was wrong, if there was anything wrong during this disaster or before, how it happened.”
Prime Minister Erdogan visited the site of the disaster and was met with jeers, boos, and calls for his resignation; the heckles got so bad, he was forced to seek refuge in a nearby store.
In his much-criticized speech to the relatives of the dead and injured, the Prime Minister glossed over the issue of mine safety, saying there is ample precedent for mine disasters.
“I think this was the wrong perception,” Davutoğlu said of the criticism.
Mine safety “is a challenge which all other nations have to face. Otherwise, of course, we have been very, very careful in dealing with these safety and security working life. And our standards are quite high.”
As public anger mounted through the evening, hundreds took to the streets in anti-government protests in Istanbul and Ankara, with police answering, in some cases, with water cannons and tear gas.
These are, Davutoğlu said, “emotional times.”
“There could be always demonstrations and we are respecting the right of the demonstrations. We should not forget that right of demonstration and rule of law is complementary; they are not against each other.”
The prime minister, he told Amanpour, had ordered investigations into what happened.
“All the measures will be taken in the future.”
Amanpour and Davutoğlu also spoke about Syria. You can watch that section of the interview here.