CHP presidential candidate İnce says he might talk to Assad if elected
İpek Özbey - İSTANBUL
The presidential candidate of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Muharrem İnce, said he remained indifferent toward Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while adding that the Turkish government should not act in anger against him.
When asked if Assad is a “red line” for him, İnce said, “I don’t particularly feel sympathy or antipathy toward him. But there should be no room in the state administration to get angry [with anyone]. The one that rules Turkey should not act sentimentally.”
Syria’s territorial integrity should be preserved and a new constitution should be adopted, İnce said, stressing the necessity for elections under U.N. monitoring with the participation of Syrians abroad.
“Syrians living in Turkey will happily return home after this structure is established,” he said.
The former high school teacher also expressed that he does not want to spend $40 billion on Syrian refugees.
Speaking about relations with the U.S., İnce said both countries can increase cooperation again despite the current strain in bilateral ties. “In the past, we had great work in Kosovo and Bosnia. We can make it again. We can make peace and reconcile,” he said.
On ties with Russia, İnce recalled that Turkey did not break ties with Moscow even in the Cold War era. “When one plays for domestic politics, neither Russian tourists will come to Antalya [Mediterranean resort popular amongst Russians] nor the tomatoes of Antalya will be exported to Moscow,” he said.
If elected, İnce said he would tell the EU that they “should not surrender to anti-Turkey circles, as Turkey does not surrender to anti-EU people.”
“The EU is a secular body, thus needs Turkey,” İnce added.
When asked about his plans for a Kurdish peace process, the CHP candidate said parliament is the place to discuss the issue. “The place to discuss this is parliament, not Dolmabahçe or Oslo, places closed off to the nation. There is no red line. Let’s talk about it,” he said, referring to previous venues where the peace talks were held.
“The Kurdish issue is a democratization issue, a cultural and economic question. But at the same time it is a matter of political morality. Politicians have always abused it. They went to Diyarbakır [southeastern province] and spoke to please the Kurds; then they went to Trabzon [Black sea province] and Edirne [western province] and used nationalist discourses,” he said.
İnce is certain he will win the elections in the first round, with the help of Kurdish voters.