Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday said it was wrong of the United States to try to threaten Turkey, a day after President Donald Trump doubled tariffs on Turkish metal imports as the row between the two NATO allies deepened.
The two governments have been at odds over a wide range of topics – from diverging interests in Syria, to Turkey’s ambition to buy Russian defence systems, and the case of evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson, who is on trial in Turkey on terrorism charges.
“You can never bring this nation in line with the language of threats,” Erdogan told a crowd of supporters in the Turkish town of Unye on the Black Sea coast. “I am once again calling on those in America: It is a pity that you choose a pastor over your strategic partner in NATO,” he said.
After almost 20 months in a Turkish jail, Brunson was moved to house arrest in July by a court. Since then Trump and his vice president Mike Pence have repeatedly called for his release while Ankara said the decision was up to the courts.
Washington in response sanctioned two Turkish ministers and Trump on Friday announced it was doubling the tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Turkey, saying relations with Ankara were “not good at this time”.
The ailing Turkish lira, which had already lost one third of its value this year largely over worries about Erdogan’s wider control of the economy, crashed further to a fresh record low, at one point losing 18 percent, its biggest fall since 2001.
A meeting on Friday unveiling a new economic approach by Turkey’s finance minister Berat Albayrak, Erdogan’s son-in-law, did little to offer support for the free-falling lira as investors sought concrete steps such as an interest rate hike to restore confidence.