Turkish President Erdoğan rejects TV debate with opposition candidate

Turkey’s Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday accepted an offer for a visit by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) presidential candidate Muharrem İnce while rejecting his challenge to a debate on TV.

“I certainly do not want to have a debate on TV because we do not want anyone to capitalize on that. But I can accept his visit at the ruling Justice and Development Party building because meeting there is a different kind of event. As a party leader I think this would be more appropriate. We will respond to this offer soon, and we will receive them at our party building,” Erdoğan said at a press conference in Ankara.

İnce had said on Sunday that he would ask for appointments from other presidential candidates. “I will ask for an appointment tomorrow [May 7] to meet all the candidates and wish them success. I will talk to whoever makes an appointment. I will visit Mr. Erdoğan if he gives me an appointment. If he calls me to the presidential palace, I will go there. If he does not, well, he knows himself. I will also visit Selahattin Demirtaş in Edirne,” he said in reference to the jailed leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

“Mr. Erdoğan, you’ve spoken about modern civilizations; let’s do it like modern societies. Let’s debate on TV, tell Turkey about our visions with the other candidates,” İnce told a group of reporters in Parliament on Monday.

Erdoğan on Sunday had vowed his ruling AKP would “bring Turkey above the level of contemporary civilization.”

“What Mr. Erdoğan said yesterday was very nice. I am very happy. But in contemporary societies and in the West, candidates appear on television together; they debate. And I am ready,” İnce said.

Turkey will hold snap presidential and general elections on June 24, almost a year and a half earlier than scheduled.

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