Muharrem Ince, the presidential candidate of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), slammed German Chancellor Angela Merkel over claims that she had invited President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Germany after the elections on June 24.
Speaking at an election rally in central Kırıkkale province, Ince said: "Merkel said Erdoğan should come to Germany after the elections. I will unite 81 million first, then your time will also come. Why do you not wait for elections results and show this impoliteness, who are you? How do you know who will be elected?"
Ince went on to accuse Merkel of having an agenda for making Erdoğan win the elections. "What partnership do you have that you're trying make him succeed? Will you benefit from his election? We are not butlers of Germany, we are the independent Republic of Turkey. What shamelessness is this?" Ince said.
Ince's harsh criticism came after Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Tuesday that Merkel invited Erdoğan to Germany after the elections as relations between the two countries were strained over a ban on Turkish politicians campaigning in the country that hosts some 1.5 million Turkish voters.
However, German government sources later denied Çavuşoğlu's claim to Deutsche Welle Turkish, saying no official invitation has been made by Merkel and only Erdoğan's counterpart, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, could invite him for a visit.
In an interview with broadcaster A Haber on Wednesday, Çavuşoğlu said Steinmeier and Merkel agreed with Erdoğan for a visit to Germany in phone conversations prior to the snap election decision. He added Merkel told him that they will plan for Erdoğan's visit after the elections and they are waiting for the president's visit.
"But she did not say official invitation. Therefore it is the continuation of a subject that has been discussed before, which is very natural. It is very natural for a prime minister to say that she expects the president's visit after the elections," Çavuşoğlu said.
Ince visits 31 provinces, holds 42 rallies in 26 days
Since starting his election campaign on May 4 in Ankara, Ince has displayed a strong performance, holding 42 rallies in 31 different provinces of Turkey in just 26 days, according to the Anadolu Agency.
Ince held his first rally in his native Yalova on May 5, where he served as a deputy for the CHP since 2002. Since then, he has held 42 rallies in cities and towns.
In addition to Kırıkkale, Ince also held a rally on Wednesday in neighboring province of Kırşehir.
On Thursday, he will visit Komotini in Greece (Gümülcine in Turkish) and Kardzhali in Bulgaria (Kırcaali in Turkish), where ethnic Turks make up the majority.
Ince will come to Bursa for his first rally in June in a province where Balkan migrants from late 19th and early 20th centuries make up a significant portion of the population.
CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is also expected to join Ince in the rally forhe first time during the campaign but this has not been confirmed yet.
Ince will visit nearly all 81 provinces of Turkey, his campaign officials said.