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Crisis with the USA, the second act: Turkey seeking alternatives.

Washington, being unable to come to an agreement with Ankara regarding the release of Pastor Brunson, has started imposing economic sanctions following the initial diplomatic ones. Ankara is on the other hand, withstanding with massages of responding by alienating from the US and its allies and knitting closer relations with Russia and China. Can this policy work?

 Hilal Köylü

“Erdoğan is just blustering. Each passing day my hope for an end to this crisis with the US dies away.”

These words belong to one of the most prominant diplomat having the deepest knowledge of Turkish-American relations, Faruk Loğoğlu, who had also served as Turkish ambassador to the US.

US president Donald Trump, turning Turkey into a target for not releasing Pastor Brunson, who was arrested and kept in prison for twenthy months only to be put to house arrest afterwards, seems to be arm wrestling with president Tayyip Erdoğan. Just after Trump has announced via Twitter that broad sanctions would be imposed upon Turkey, the US Treasury put sanctions against Turkish ministers of interior and justice in place. As the US cut all relations with those ministers, Ankara did not wait to reprisal. However, this triggered the economic sanctions.

Donald Trump announced that he had authorized a doubling of tariffs on steel and aliminium with respect to Turkey again on his Twitter account and also didn’t refrain from reporting a huge sliding down of Turkish Lira against US Dollar. Such that, the exchange rate, having been showing a rising trend for sime time, hit record levels at the time of these Twitter massages. When the rates hit historical records, Dollar at 6 and an half and Euro at 7 Liras, Erdoğan accused Trump of insulting Turkey’s pride. He, repeating his call to Turkish people to sell out their Dollars and gold holdings, emphasized the inevitability for Turkey, a NATO ally, to seek new alliances with countries like Russia and China in the face of Trump’s attitudes.


In world capitals as well as in Ankara the question is not only whether the crisis between the countries will end but also whether Turkey can break away from NATO. “This is exactly what is really dangerous. They already put obstacles on Turkey’s way to membership to EU at every opportunity. They are questioning Turkey’s place in NATO. And unfortunately Turkey is playing into their hand time and again.” Ambassador Loğoğlu points out the situation created by the crisis between Turkey and the US with these words. He interprets Erdoğan’s assertion that Turkey could break away from NATO and tend towards alliances with Russia and China as well as his statements targeting Trump as “blustering.” Loğoğlu points out the fact that US is waging economic war not only with Turkey but almost all other countries on the globe. The former ambassador also regrets the current situation of the bilateral relations: “Why don’t we use diplomacy? Why should we respond to Trump’s blusterings with the same style, why should the exchange of threats dominate the biletarel relations?” Loğoğlu, arguing that Turkey has already close relations with Russia and forseeing seeking alliances out of NATO would be perilous for Turkey, says that, “as the crisis escelates Turkey looses.”


So, will the crisis end? Loğoğlu says he looses hope each passing day. He establishes that, “we have been caught up in a spiral of biletarel relations dominated by blustering and threats.” He also warns that unless this spiral is broken by a ‘calm diplomatic move’ Turkey will likely face further sanctions. Loğoğlu shares the concerns that this crisis may be referred to as the “great disaster” in the following periods and argues that it is necessary to develop a government-diplomacy strategy to put the relations with the US on the right track ‘before it’s too late.’


As the tensions between Ankara and Washington is escelating, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov is visiting Ankara. This visit draws attention also because it coincides with Russian airstrikes at neighboring regions of Idlib, West of Aleppo. All the world is closely watching Ankara’s next move since Lavrov’s agenda in Ankara will include both the tension with the US and the developments in Idlib. Diplomatic sources in Ankara point out that the negotiations with the US has not ended yet and that the diplomacy will come rather forward regarding the bilateral relations in the following days. We will see what diplomacy has to offer.

(Çeviren: Benan Eres)


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