President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey will not bow to threats fueled by an “evangelist and Zionist mentality” in the U.S., as the diplomatic crisis between the two NATO members over the fate of a detained American pastor showed no signs of abating.
“We will continue on our road that we believe in, without making the slightest concession from our freedom, independence and judicial independence,” Erdogan said, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency. “No one will gain anything by threatening us.”
U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to impose “large sanctions” on Turkey unless Andrew Brunson, an evangelical pastor arrested on charges of involvement in a coup attempt in 2016, is released. Erdogan says the matter is subject to judicial due process.
Turkey will show its strength more forcefully from now, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said shortly after Erdogan’s remarks. “Some think they can make Turkey kneel for a spy priest.”
Brunson’s case has added to a long list of issues straining ties between the two countries.
Since the failed coup attempt, Turkey has been unsuccessfully lobbying the U.S. to extradite Fethullah Gulen, an elderly cleric living in Pennsylvania who Turkey says masterminded it. In Syria, the U.S. has backed Syrian Kurds that the Turkish government considers an extension of a terrorist group.
Investors in Turkey are also anticipating the possibility of a fine or sanctions against Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS, a state-run lender whose former deputy chief executive officer was convicted in a New York court of participating in a scheme to help evade sanctions on Iran.
Reported by: Bloomberg