Erdogan: Partnership with U.S. in jeopardy for sanctions, tariffs

File photo: FlickrGage Skidmore

Aug. 12 (UPI) — Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at the United States, saying the partnership is in jeopardy because of tariffs and sanctions for imprisonment of an American priest.

“I call out to those in the United States,” Erdogan said Saturday during a rallyin the Black Sea port of Ordu. “You are trading a strategic NATO ally for a pastor. You cannot tame our people with threats.”

He also denounced the United States for declaring “economic war on the entire world” and holding countries “for ransom through sanction threats.”

In The New York Times on Saturday, Erdogan wrote that its partnership with the United States may crumble.

“Unless the United States starts respecting Turkey’s sovereignty and proves that it understands the dangers that our nation faces, our partnership could be in jeopardy,” he wrote. “Failure to reverse this trend of unilateralism and disrespect will require us to start looking for new friends and allies.”

In the Rize province on Saturday, he said Turkey had alternatives “from Iran, to Russia, to China and some European countries.”

The United States has military personnel stationed at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey.

On Friday, the United States doubled tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum imports, sending the lira tumbling as much as 18.5 percent.

“I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar!,” Trump posted on Twitter. “Aluminum will now be 20% and Steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!”

Erdogan said dollars, euros and gold were being used as “the bullets, cannonballs and missiles of the economic war being waged against our country.”

“Those who can’t compete with us on the ground have brought online fictional currency plots that have nothing to do with the realities of our country, production and real economy,” Erdogan said. “The country is neither crumbling nor being destroyed or bankrupt or in a crisis.”

Erodgan said “If they have the dollar, we have Allah.”

He urged Turks to turn turn their money into liras.

“If there are dollars under your pillow, take these out,” Erdogan said. “If there are euros, take these out. Immediately give these to the banks and convert to Turkish lira and by doing this, we fight this war of independence.”

The United States has demanded the release of Andrew Brunson, who has been detained for two years. He has been accused of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party and movement in support of Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania. Erdogan has blamed Gulentist sympethizers for a failed coup in 2016. The United States has refused to extradite Gulen.

“It is wrong to dare bring Turkey to its knees through threats over a pastor,” Erdogan said during the rally.

In July, Trump posted on Twitter: “The United States will impose large sanctions on Turkey for their long time detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson, a great Christian, family man and wonderful human being. He is suffering greatly. This innocent man of faith should be released immediately!”

Erdogan also said the the sanctions imposed on several Turkish cabinet members over the Brunson issue were “unacceptable, irrational and ultimately detrimental.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has accused the United States of an “addiction to sanctions and bullying”.


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