Muharrem İnce, the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) presidential candidate, has vowed to repair Turkey’s strained ties with the European Union, stressing their “choice is the West.”
“I have spoken to some ambassadors and told them they should not force us to change our choice [of the West]. Immediately after I am elected president, I will tour the European capitals,” İnce told a group of editors-in-chief and directors of newspapers and broadcasters in a meeting in Istanbul on June 20.
İnce announced that his “most urgent priority” is the justice system. “I do not care what the EU says, we will recognize cemevis as places of worship because it is the right of our Alevi citizens. Religious classes in schools will no longer be compulsory,” he said.
“The EU wants us to do certain things. But there are things we should do for our people whether the EU wants it or not. Do we have to hear that we should fix our justice system from the EU? These things should be fixed even without the EU and I believe I have earned the trust of the EU as well,” İnce said when asked about his foreign policy.
“We will not return to the past. Our parliamentary system in the past was bad, but the new one is even worse. We will change this. Even newspaper headlines are decided by one man. We will change that too,” the CHP candidate promised.
İnce voiced confidence that he would be elected president after the June 24 elections, stressing he had never seen such energy during a campaign in his 30-year-long political career.
“I am addressing huge crowds. There is an extraordinary groundswell,” he said.
The main opposition party’s presidential hopeful once again challenged his rival President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to take part in a televised debate to discuss the state of the economy.
“We still have time until the elections. I do not want to exchange words with Erdoğan through public rallies. We do not need a mediator, we do not need to send indirect messages [to each other]. Let us talk face to face,” İnce said.
Potential vice president candidates
İnce also said he would accept İYİ (Good) Party leader and presidential candidate Meral Akşener’s offer to become her vice president if she is elected as president in the upcoming elections.
“If I win the presidential election, I will offer vice president posts to Akşener and [Felicity Party’s (SP) leader and presidential candidate] Temel Karamollaoğlu,” İnce added.
“I have often been asked if I will put Erdoğan on trial if I am elected as president. I say ‘no.’ I am not in a position to try people. Putting people on trial is not my job,” he said.
İnce also vowed to relentlessly continue to fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), the group led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen which is widely believed to have been behind the July 2016 coup attempt.
İnce, however, said the government’s recent military operations against PKK targets in the Kandil region on the Iraq-Iran border are part of plans to make political gains ahead of the elections.