Erdoğan to Trump: You prefer a pastor to a strategic ally of yours in NATO

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday responded to a recent statement from the US administration, saying it’s a shame for Washington to prefer an American pastor to Turkey, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

After imposing economic sanctions on two Turkish ministers on Aug. 1 for their role in the detention of American evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson, US President Donald Trump on Friday ramped up his sanctions on Turkey by doubling US tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel imports to 20 percent and 50 percent, respectively.

“They are threatening us. You cannot bring [Turkish] people to their knees by using threatening language. We are quite familiar with justice and the law,” Erdoğan told a crowd in the Black Sea province of Ordu.

Addressing the US administration, Erdogan said: “It’s a shame. You prefer a pastor to a strategic ally of yours in NATO.”

“I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar! Aluminum will now be 20% and Steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!” Trump tweeted on Friday.

“Unilateral actions against Turkey by the United States will undermine American interests and force Turkey to look for other friends and allies,” Erdoğan said in an opinion piece published by the New York Times on Saturday.

Turkey has been facing a currency crisis since its relations with the US administration were dramatically strained over a court decision to put American pastor Brunson under house arrest after almost two years in pretrial detention rather than release him as demanded by the US administration.

Following the court ruling US President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence threatened to impose “large sanctions” on Turkey if Brunson were not freed.

A Turkish delegation held meetings this week with US officials in Washington to find a solution, but they reportedly returned to Turkey empty-handed.

In a speech in the eastern town of Bayburt, Erdoğan said Turks “will respond to those who start an economic war against” the country, in an attempt to restore confidence in the Turkish lira after it plunged by more than 20 percent against the dollar on Friday.

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