World Bulletin / News Desk
President Abdullah Gül invited five students from a group protesting outside the Çankaya presidential palace to join him and student body representatives from various universities for lunch.
President Gül, who regularly holds lunches with representatives of different segments of society, had lunch with heads of student bodies from various universities.
The lunch came at a time when students have been staging protests against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) that sometimes result in clashes with the police, just one day after a group of about 500 students were prevented from walking to the AK Party headquarters from the Middle East Technical University's (ODTÜ) campus in the capital.
As Gül and the invited students had lunch at Çankaya, a group of students started to protest in front of the Atakule Tower near Çankaya. The president invited five students from this group to join him and the representatives. The five arrived at the palace by taxi that afternoon. The protest and meeting with the five students not initially invited were still underway.
"Sit-in during meeting"
Lunch with the invited students started at 1:20 p.m. Gül told his guests: “Tell me freely about the problems of your friends. I will listen and do what is necessary,” recalling that he was head of student council when he was a university student.
Fourteen heads of the Student Councils of Ankara, Atılım, Başkent, Bilkent, Çankaya, Gazi, Hacettepe, ODTÜ, TOBB-ETÜ, Turgut Özal and Ufuk universities attended the luncheon. Presidential Secretary-General Mustafa İsen, Presidential Press Aide Ahmet Sever and the Chief Aide in charge of EU affairs Zeynep Damla Gürel, as well as the Presidential Office's Communications Department head Kemal İlter also attended the event.
Meanwhile, the protestors outside claimed that the heads of student bodies were not representative of students. They were stopped at the Atakule Tower before they could get to Çankaya Palace, where they changed their protest into a sit-in against the riot police that stopped them.
A representative for the students accused the government of using the police against every student group that protested, and that the Higher Educational Council (YÖK) was not an autonomous body.
Related news reports:Last Mod: 06 Ocak 2011, 17:26