CHP presidential candidate İnce: Our choice is the West

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Presidential candidate of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Muharrem Ince speaks during a press meeting at his garden in his hometown of Yalova, on June 15, 2018, ahead of the presidential and general elections which will be held on June 24, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC

Muharrem İnce, the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) presidential candidate in elections this weekend in Turkey, has vowed to repair Turkey’s strained ties with the European Union, stressing that the party’s “choice is the West,” the Hürriyet Daily News reported.

“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 at a meeting in Istanbul on Wednesday.

İnce announced that his “most urgent priority” was 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 them 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 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 president in the upcoming election.

“If I win the presidential election, I will offer vice president posts to Akşener and [Felicity Party (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 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 the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the faith-based Gülen movement, accused by the government of masterminding a July 2016 coup attempt.

The movement strongly denies the allegation.

İnce, however, said the government’s recent military operations against PKK targets in the Qandil region on the Iran-Iraq border are part of plans to make political gains ahead of the elections.

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