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Turkey in a week, 6th August 2018

The political and diplomatic crisis between Turkey and USA deepened in the first week of August instead of resolving, which seemed to start over the jailed evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson. Trump threatened Turkey to enforce political and financial sanctions after Brunson had not been released from prison in contrary to expectations from the US side, as HalaGazeteciyiz reports. According to reports in Turkish and American media, there had been a deal between two countries to release Brunson and Turkey had not kept its promise and Brunson was sent to house arrest in the Aegean province of İzmir pending trial on terrorism charges instead of freed. When the crisis broke in the last week of July after Brunson’s hearing, Trump wrote on Twitter that Turkey will face sanctions due to Brunson case and last week unspecified sanctions mentioned in Trums’s tweet came to light. The U.S. announced sanctions on Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu over “their role in the arrest of pastor Andrew Brunson” and blamed them for being behind “serious human rights abuses” in Turkey. The sanctions imposed on the ministers Gül and Soylu bring freezing their financial assets in the USA and banning their entry into USA.

The first reaction from Turkey came from Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu, one of the names the sanctions targeted. He responded that the decision “will not go unanswered”, and “We cannot solve our problems unless the U.S. administration understands that it will not get its demands with unlawful ways.”. Turkish officials also have said they cannot intervene in the judicial system. However, this comment has not been taken very seriously by the observers. President Erdoğan also was very furious and announced that Turkey will freeze the assets of two United States ministers as retaliation to Washington’s sanctions against its NATO ally country.

Erdoğan repeated that “the language of threats” will not work on Turkey and stated his disappointment towards USA as a strategic partner to Turkey with this last step.

Erdoğan insisted that “Turkey cannot be a tool for domestic politics neither in Europe nor the U.S. The U.S. will gain nothing by repeating Europe’s mistakes” and said “Turkey has no intention of being a party to a “lose-lose game.”. Even if Erdoğan said that he ordered to freeze the assets of two USA ministers, He stated that the latest step taken by the U.S. in the incident of pastor Brunson was not suitable to a strategic partner and they will keep the dialog doors open.

Later last week, on August 4th, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu indicated signs of continuing dialog between two countries. Çavuşoğlu had a first face to face meeting after US sanctions with his U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo in Singapore. Çavuşoğlu said their meeting was “constructive,” while adding that a threatening language does not help the U.S. get any results from Turkey.

Çavuşoğlu stated that “I believe we can overcome the current situation through compromise, diplomacy, negotiation and good faith, but not by language of threatening. There is an intense process ahead of us,”. Pompeo also said they had a constructive conversation and indicated that he was hopeful there would be progress toward freeing the American pastor.

The diplomatic crisis costed Turkey big financially. Turkey’s lira hit a new record low after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced he would freeze the assets of U.S. ministers in response to sanctions by Washington on two of his own officials. The lira dropped to as low as 5.12 per dollar in Istanbul on Monday and was down 0.6 percent at 5.11 per dollar at 10:36 a.m.

The lira has lost almost 30 percent of its value against the dollar this year due to rising inflation and current account deficit, concerns over the central bank’s independence from political interference and political tensions with the United States, as halagazeteciyiz reports here. The stock market and bonds have also plummeted. the BIST-100 share index of Istanbul is one of the worst performers in major global markets this year.

A Turkish court jailed nine defendants for life on Friday for twin bombings in the capital Ankara in 2015 that killed more than 100 people according to halagazeteciyiz. The Fourth High Criminal Court in Ankara announced its ruling on the October 10 Massacre. Though the defendants were sentenced to hundreds of years of imprisonment, the lawyers said “This is not legal heroism but a legal obligation. The liability of the state has been covered up.”

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