In the speech to supporters in the Black Sea city of Trabzon, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country would not acquiesce to US pressure, and that the Trump administration’s actions were threatening the two countries’ longstanding alliance.
“I want them to know that we will not surrender. We will keep producing and we will keep increasing exports,” he said. “We will not give in… if you come at us with your dollars then we will find other ways to do business… The US is sacrificing its 81-million-strong ally Turkey for a pastor with links with terrorists.”
‘Slaves to the dollar’
In his remarks Sunday, Erdogan said the US gave Turkey a deadline of last Wednesday to release Brunson or face further sanctions.
In revealing details of negotiations held between the two NATO allies, Erdogan said: “They are going to make us slaves to the dollar. Foreign exchange, interests… so what? They (US) said, ‘if you don’t release the pastor by 6 p.m. on Wednesday we will start sanctions.’ They are going to sanction our interior and justice minister.”
The United States slapped sanctions against Turkey’s interior and justice ministers earlier this month, in response to Brunson’s detention. Turkey responded by ordering the freezing of assets related to the US “justice and interior” secretaries.
The US State Department declined to comment on Turkey’s allegations of a Wednesday deadline on the release of the American pastor.
Held for two years
He faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted. His trial is set to resume in October.
In his speech Sunday Erdogan, repeated his accusation that the imposition of further tariffs by the US is tantamount to “economic warfare,” and warned that the US stance could see a geopolitical shift in the NATO member’s alliances.
Referencing Trump’s imposition of tariffs on a host of global trading partners, including the EU, Canada and China, Erdogan said that it could force the country “towards new markets and new alliances.”
“Our response to those who wage a trade war against the whole world and include our country to that would be heading towards new markets and new alliances. Look at this, they increase tariffs on metal and steel. We are a member of World Trade Organization. This is not among the rules of World Trade Organization.”
The remarks were a reiteration of Friday’s Times op-ed, in which Erdogan said that the US’ “failure to reverse this trend of unilateralism and disrespect will require us to start looking for new friends and allies.”
“Erdogan is likely trying to publicly signal he could go over to the dark side, aka the anti-NATO, Putin side. We should also expect Turkey to draw even closer to Iran.”
On Friday, Erdogan urged the Turkish people to exchange dollars and euros for lira in order to defend the currency.
Investors are anxious about the political clash with the United States intensified and the Turkish government’s lack of measures to tackle the problems plaguing its economy.
Erdogan is ignoring calls to increase interest rates, but economists are warning that if confidence isn’t restored quickly, Turkey could lurch into a recession and debt crisis requiring a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.
“Investors are clearly concerned that Turkey’s government won’t act (or allow the central bank to act) to shore up the currency, and fears are mounting that this could result in a crisis in Turkey’s banking sector,” William Jackson, chief emerging markets economist at research firm Capital Economics, wrote in a note to clients Friday.
CNN’s Gul Tuysuz in Istanbul and Jonny Hallam in Atlanta, along with CNN Money’s Jethro Mullen in Hong Kong, contributed to this report.