ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denounced the Lira crisis as a “plot against Turkey,” warning that his country will forge new alliances and markets in response to a bitter rift with long-time ally the United States, which has caused the Turkish currency to hit record lows.
“The fluctuation in the Turkish Lira is a plot against Turkey, but the Turkish people will not give in,” the Turkish president defiantly said on Sunday in a live speech in northwestern province of Trabzon, sharply criticizing the United States of waging an “economic war” against his country. Relations between the United States and Turkey had plunged to their lowest in decades following unprecedented sanctions declared by the United States on Turkey over U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson, who faces terrorism charges and up to 35 years in prison if found guilty.
Turkey scrambled a delegation to Washington last week to stave off the crisis but no deal has been reached. U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said on Thursday that although the two sides “had wide-ranging meetings at the State Department and with other departments here in Washington,” the U.S. side “would define progress as Pastor Brunson being brought home.” Erdogan vowed also in Trabzon there would be no easing of the law in Brunson’s case, said that the United States tried to “give us ultimatums and deadlines to free the priest. We have not made concessions on justice so far, and we will never make any.”
The Turkish Lira has slide rapidly since the United States slapped sanctions on two Turkish ministers, and extended its slide Monday morning to a new record low, at over 6.8 to U.S. dollar at the opening of European and Turkish markets. “I here declare that we have seen your plot and we are challenging it,” said Erdogan. “There is no economic reason for the present (currency plunge) situation. This a plot to force Turkey to surrender in every field from finance to politics, to make Turkey and its people to kneel down.”
The Turkish strongman also pointed out that Turkey was considering other markets and political alternatives to its “strategic partnership” with Washington. “If you come at us with your dollars we will try to find other ways to manage our affairs. We will respond to those, who declared trade war on the entire world and included Turkey in it, by steering towards new alliances, new markets,” he said. In addition, Erdogan also threatened the United States to “start looking for new friend and allies,” if the row isn’t resolved soon.
“Washington must give up the misguided notion that our relationship can be asymmetrical and come to terms with the fact that Turkey has alternatives,” wrote the Turkish strongman in the New York Times on Saturday. “You (the United States) are trying to sacrifice our strategic relations on the sole basis of a priest,” said Erdogan Sunday, warning furthermore that Turkey will eventually say “farewell” to its American ally.