The US has threatened to slap Turkey with more sanctions if it does not release a Christian evangelical pastor held on terrorism charges.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin weighed in to suggest adding the next “tit-for-tat” sanctions, deepening a tariff rift against Ankara.
“We have put sanctions on several of their cabinet members,” said Mnuchin. “We have more that we are planning to do if they don’t release him [Andrew Brunson] quickly.” The pastor was arrested in 2016 after the failed coup attempt and has been held in remand since.
The United States imposed sanctions on two Turkish government ministers, and last week Washington raised tariffs on Turkish metal exports causing the lira currency to drop.
Earlier today, Trump said the United States “will pay nothing” to Turkey for Brunson’s release, who he called “a great patriot hostage”.
Turkey is vying to stabilise it’s lira currency, reassuring investors that the sanctions would only make the country stronger. Berat Albayrak, Turkey’s treasury and finance minister, told 6,100 international investors yesterday that Ankara will not seek loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but focus on seeking funding from international markets.
Two days ago, Qatar’s leader Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani assisted to steady Turkey’s lira by pledging to invest some $15 billion in Turkey. Doha’s assistance comes following Turkey’s immediate support following an air, land and sea blockade against Qatar levied by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Egypt – the quartet – last June.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said early this week that Turkey would boycott American electronic products. “If they have iPhones, there is Samsung on the other side, and we have our own Vestel here,” he said, referring to the Turkish electronics company, whose shares rose five per cent.
Erdogan said his government would offer further incentives to companies planning to invest in Turkey and said firms should not be put off by economic uncertainty.