Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday targeted the US, which has imposed sanctions on Turkey over the continued detention and trial of an American pastor, saying that Ankara will counter Washington within the limits of diplomacy and the law, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
“America has embarked on a wrong direction by choosing the language of threats and blackmail instead of dialogue for the solution of the political and legal problems between the two countries. This method, which supposedly aims to exact a toll on us [Turkey], indeed inflicts the biggest damage on America in the short and long term,” said Erdoğan during a speech at the Turkish Parliament’s general assembly.
“We are determined to fight back within the limits of diplomacy and the law against this distorted understanding, which tries to impose sanctions on our country by using the excuse of a pastor who is being tried for his dark relations with terrorist organizations,” he added.
Erdoğan said he hopes to improve political and economic relations with the US in accordance with the spirit of strategic partnership.
Tensions between the US and Turkey have escalated in recent months over the detention of Andrew Brunson, a Christian evangelical pastor standing trial on terrorism-related charges tied to a failed 2016 coup.
The US slapped sanctions on two Turkish government ministers in August, to which Turkey responded by sanctioning two US Cabinet secretaries. When Trump doubled tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Turkey, Erdoğan retaliated with tariffs on alcohol, cars and tobacco and the threat of a boycott on American electronics.
The spat has deepened troubles for the already struggling Turkish economy and helped drive a more than 40 percent decline in the Turkish lira this year.
Erdoğan said on Sept. 25 that a Turkish court, not politicians, would decide the fate of Brunson.