Turkey: President Erdogan challenges those playing "games" on the economy

April FrancisAug 19, 2018

Turkey's battered lira weakened as much as seven per cent against the dollar on Friday, after a United States warning that Ankara should expect more economic sanctions unless it hands over detained American evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson.

A Turkish court has rejected an appeal to release American pastor Andrew Brunson from his house arrest, according to local media. Its leader lives in Pennsylvania and the USA has rejected calls from Turkey to have him extradited.

Brunson's detention since October 2016 on terror-related charges has soured relations between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, sending the Turkish lira into a tailspin.

The Turkish lira is falling against the dollar on Friday after Mnuchin's statement.

US President Donald Trump last Friday announced he would double tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum, mocking the slide of the Turkish lira on Twitter.

Turkey responded in kind to the sanctions, increasing tariffs on USA alcohol, tobacco and automotive products on Wednesday, also imposing the same sanctions to the US interior and state secretaries.

Trump prefaced Mnuchin's remarks by saying that Turkey had not been a very good friend to America.

A Trump administration official told the Associated Press Thursday that National Security Adviser John Bolton spoke Monday with the Turkish ambassador to the USA telling him to release Brunson.

He also urged Brunson to serve as a "great patriot hostage" while he is jailed and criticized Turkey for "holding our wonderful Christian Pastor".

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He said: "We put sanctions on several cabinet members".

Brunson, a pastor who is a long time resident in Turkey, is alleged by the government to have links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party and the Gulenist movement, both of which are accused of being involved in 2016's failed coup against Erdogan.

The Qatari emir said that beyond financial calculations, his country's primary motivation was to "stand by our brothers in Turkey", a hint at the nascent but apparently strong strategic alliance between the two Muslim countries.

A day after two major ratings agencies downgraded Turkey closer to junk status amid a currency crisis, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he would challenge those playing "games" on the economy.

Elmira Bayrasli, who teaches global affairs with a focus on Turkey at Bard College, said that Erdogan is improving relations with Europe to increase confidence in the Turkish market.

The issue has led to a dramatic souring of U.S. -Turkey relations.

Erdogan has cast the tariffs, and the sell-off in the lira, as an "economic war" against Turkey.

The sanctions are believed to have further exacerbated economic turmoil in Turkey, which some believe has its roots in misguided economic policies of the government in recent years.

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