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Would the Crisis with the USA be got over?

Being against release of Pastor Brunson who is being trialed with the allegations of ‘illegal organization membership and espionage’ with the argument that the USA cannot interfere with the internal affairs of Turkey, Ankara is now facing with the historical sanction decision from Washington. While the diplomatic traffic is going on in Ankara-Washington line, attentions are now on the question whether the traffic will bring about a solution or not.

Hilal Köylü

‘The damage by the reactions according to the rule of reciprocity would not be same for the USA and Turkey.’

The statement is by Mr. Yaşar Yakış, who was the Minister of State Department for a period and is one of the founders of the JDP (Justice and Development Party). Yakış is one of the close followers of the crisis that has been echoed in the world as ‘The Pastor Andrew Brunson Crisis’. According to him, the crisis has ‘blatantly’ burst out, and he interprets the Minister of State Department Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s message that ‘We will try to solve together’, after meeting his counterpart Mike Pompeo, as Ankara’s ‘understanding the seriousness of the USA’ and adds ‘if only we could not understand everything so late.’

While Yakış calls for ‘cautious scrutinization’ of the case that the USA, for the first time in her relations with Turkey, has taken sanctions against the persons not institutions, and he summarizes as follows the USA’s possible steps if an agreement in Ankara-Washington line cannot be achieved:

‘The fines to Halkbank would be quite high. When Turkey demands credit from the international institutions, their doors will be locked out.’

After all USA’s high-level officers, particularly President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence, have stated their decidedness about maintenance of the sanctions unless Pastor Brunson would not be released, Ankara’s first reaction was too severe. Turkish side’s discomfort from the USA’s ‘menacing rhetoric’ was revealed by the high-level officers of Turkish government with the message: ‘We might respond in the same way.’ According to Yakış, what is to be done is the correction of that very ‘might respond in the same way’ message, and he discloses his gladness about the reflection of this correction in the Minister of State Department Çavuşoğlu’s messages after he has met with his counterpart Mike Pompeo. He comments: ‘It is very well that Turkey at last understands that her reaction on the basis of reciprocity would be more harmful to Turkey than to the USA.’


Alright, becoming evident with the sanctions targeted Turkish ministers of justice and interior, what has caused the crisis in Ankara-Washington line to escalate?

Yaşar Yakış says: ‘Turkey insists on that all of her international affiliates, including the USA, should read the world, the developments just as she does. Bu this is not the case. The USA does not want to back down from the cooperation with the People Protection Units (PPU –YPG). A more visionary and creative perspective may be more beneficial in bilateral relations.’ According to Yakış, Ankara has to focus on a “versatile, constructive and problem solving foreign policy’ as soon as possible. Yakış argues that in this respect in someway a formula to release Brunson should be developed; even though it would be ‘at the expense of discrediting the prestige of the Turkish jurisdiction’. He states that ‘unless that formula is developed, the deepening of the crisis would not be surprising.

Yakış thinks that the Brunson crisis mirrors the underperformance of Turkey, despite her amazing capacity in diplomacy. He tells that ‘I am sure the diplomats informed the authorities on the USA’s opinions and expectations about Turkish jurisdiction, but they did not want to understand the seriousness of the issue. If the diplomats have not commensurately informed the authorities, it is a totally different desperate situation.’


Having been remanded in custody for two years with the allegations of ‘espionage and the FETO (Fethullahist Terror Organization) membership’, and been demanded 35 year jail sentence, Pastor Brunson was put under house arrest on July 25. Welcoming the decision of the court for Brunson but finding it ‘insufficient’, the USA has threatened Ankara with the statement: ‘If he is not released, we will impose large-scale sanctions.’ After having declared that she will not bow to this threat, Ankara faced with the USA’s sanction decision. The US Treasury has defined the imprisonment of Pastor Brunson, a 20 year resident of Turkey, as a violation of human right and seen the Minister of the Interior Süleyman Soylu and the Minister of Justice Abdülhamit Gül as first hand responsible for this violation. Having decided to confiscate the properties of both ministers, restrict their freedom to travel and prevent them from negotiating with the US officers, the USA Treasury has repeated to Turkish government her demand for release of Pastor Brunson.

Having deemed the sanction decision as ‘unacceptable’, the Turkish government has been supported by the joint declaration of four political parties elected to the TGNA (Turkish Grand National Assembly); except for the PDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party). In the declaration the USA is invited to renounce the menacing rhetoric and Ankara is called to respond the US sanctions. The PDP has announced that she had not been invited for the joint declaration. The PDP authorities says that ‘we have been eleceted to the TGNA, too, but we are in a political system that does not communicate with us.’


After the US Treasury declared the sanction decision against the Minister of Justice Abdülhamit Gül and the Minister of the Interior Süleyman Soylu, the US dollar reached its highest level for Turkish lira and was treated from 5 TL level. After the declaration, the depreciation of TL reached 1.6 %. Worrying about the ongoing non-resolved and non-overcome crisis between the USA and Turkey, the unease of the markets is going on.


Erstwhile being the Washington Ambassador of Turkey, retired ambassador Faruk Loğoğlu, too, thinks that Ankara has to urge all channels of diplomacy to overcome the Pastor Brunson crisis. Loğoğlu says that ‘It is time, if not late, for Turkey to abandon her aggressive image. Otherwise we will have to confront a totally exhausted foreign policy landscape, besides the economic one.’

Drawing the attention to the problems other than the release of Pastor Brunson such as the sanctions to Iran, the cooperation in Syria, the Halkbank case, Loğoğlu states that ‘Every issue should be handled in its own and the confidence crisis between the parties should be fixed.’

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