Turkey accuses U.S. of waging 'economic war' in pastor dispute
Turkey accused Washington on Wednesday of waging “economic war” and failing to respect its legal system over the fate of an evangelical Christian pastor whose 21-month-long detention on terrorism charges has roiled relations between the NATO allies, Reuters reported.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman said comments by President Donald Trump’s national security adviser were proof that the United States is targeting Turkey’s economy and not reflecting the fundamental principles and values of the NATO alliance.
“His statement is proof that the Trump administration is targeting a NATO ally as part of an economic war,” Erdogan spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said in a written statement to Reuters responding to comments by Trump adviser John Bolton.
“The Trump administration has ... established that it intends to use trade, tariffs and sanctions to start a global trade war,” Kalin said, pointing to similar disputes with Mexico, Canada, Europe and China.
“Turkey has no intention of starting an economic war with any party. It cannot, however, be expected to keep silent in the face of attacks against its economy and judiciary,” he said.
Kalin said Turkey would work with the rest of the world against restrictive and punitive measures.
Bolton told Reuters during a visit to Israel he was skeptical about the pledge of $15 billion (£11.61 billion) of investment support for Turkey by Qatar’s emir, which was “utterly insufficient to have an impact on Turkey’s economy.”
The lira held steady against the dollar on Wednesday after Bolton’s comments, including his observation that Turkey had made a “big mistake” in not freeing U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson.
Kalin called on Washington to respect Turkey’s judicial independence, one of Ankara’s most pointed responses yet to criticism over Brunson’s detention.
“There is rule of law in Turkey and the Andrew Brunson case is a legal issue. There is an ongoing legal process related to this individual,” Kalin said.
“It goes without saying that we find unacceptable the disregard of the legal process by the United States, which has been making certain demands.”
Brunson, who has lived in Turkey for two decades, is now under house arrest over the terrorism charges, which he denies.