Turkey condemns US ‘threat’ over pastor

Ankara, Sunday

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the US of trying to “bring Turkey to its knees through threats over a pastor”.

The US has demanded the release of Andrew Brunson and on Friday doubled tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.

The diplomatic spat sent the lira down 16 per cent against the dollar on Friday.

Erdogan also wrote in the New York Times that unless the US changed course, Turkey would look for new friends and allies.

Turkey has detained Brunson for nearly two years, accusing him of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party and the Gulenist movement, which Turkey blames for a failed coup in 2016.

But the pastor is only one of a number of issues dividing the two Nato allies, including policy on Syria and Erdogan’s growing ties with Russia.

He was speaking at a rally in the Black Sea town of Unye.

“It is wrong to dare bring Turkey to its knees through threats over a pastor. I am calling on those in America again. Shame on you, shame on you. You are exchanging your strategic partner in Nato for a priest. You can never bring this nation in line with the language of threats,” he said, adding: “We have not made concessions on justice so far, and we will never make any.”

Turning to the economic effects of the diplomatic row, Erdogan said: “If they have the dollar, we have Allah.”

“If there are dollars under your pillow, take these out. 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,” he added.

Erdogan said the US had “repeatedly and consistently failed to understand and respect the Turkish people’s concerns”.  —BBC

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