Erdogan warns Trump Ankara may seek ‘new friends’

Berat Albayrak

Berat Albayrak

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday accused the United States of exchanging its "strategic North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally with a pastor", remarks that questioned why Washington was seeking to free its citizens detained by Ankara, including Pastor Andrew Brunson who has become the eye of a diplomatic storm between the two nations.

The currency turbulence coincides with the most bitter dispute with the United States since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, which so far shows no sign of abating.

He wrote: 'I have just authorised a doubling of tariffs on steel and aluminium with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong dollar!'

"Those who can't compete with us on the ground have brought online fictional currency plots that have nothing to with the realities of our country, production and real economy", Erdogan told a provincial meeting of his AK Party in the Black Sea coastal town of Rize.

In another opinion piece in the pro-government newspaper Daily Sabah, Mr Erdogan's spokesman, Mr Ibrahim Kalin, said Turkey's efforts to solve the crisis diplomatically had been dismissed by the Trump administration, warning Washington it might completely lose Ankara as an ally.

The U.S. has already imposed financial sanctions on two Turkish ministers and has warned there could be more measures - the doubling of tariffs might be that move.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters in Bayburt, Turkey, Friday, Aug. 10, 2018.

It now looks as if the Euro will continue to sell off, and short-term rallies will be selling opportunities unless we can recapture the 1.15 level above, something that looks a bit suspicious at this point considering how rough Friday was.

And he brushed off the tariffs. In doing this, he said, "we fight this war of independence.This is the language they understand". "Don't give. What we have is enough for us".

The currency's drop - 41 percent so far this year - is a gauge of fear over a country coming to terms with years of high debt, global concern over Erdogan's push to amass power, and a souring in relations with allies like the U.S. Failure to reverse this trend of unilateralism and disrespect will require us to start looking for new friends and allies,"Mr Erdogan said".

"This will be the response to those who have declared an economic war", he said, blaming Turkey's woes on what he described as an "interest rate lobby" seeking to push the country to higher rates.

"The US has to rehabilitate its addiction to sanctions and bullying or entire world will unite - beyond verbal condemnations - to force it to". "We've stood with neighbours before, and will again now", he warned.

It is possible that Trump cited the lira's decline as a mere pretense for pressuring Turkey to release the American pastor.

Erdogan also yesterday held telephone talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, discussing economic and trade issues as well as the Syria crisis, the Turkish presidency said.

The arrest of United States pastor Brunson since October 2016 has soured already delicate relations with Washington.

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