Turkey’s president says country will defy economic threats

The Turkish government has also complained about what it calls USA support for Kurdish rebel groups fighting in northern Syria, and it has condemned the US refusal to extradite the Pennsylvania-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey has accused of masterminding the 2016 coup attempt.

"Turkey has taken advantage of the United States for many years". "The Europeans will maintain the existing objections to certain Erdogan policies and continue to voice their concerns, but that won't stop them from developing pragmatic cooperation with Turkey", he said.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin assured President Donald Trump at a cabinet meeting on Thursday that sanctions were ready to be put in place if Mr Brunson, a pastor on trial in Turkey on terrorism charges, was not freed. Lawmakers in Washington passed a bill effectively delaying the shipping of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey.

Supporters of Brunson, who ran a small church in the Turkish coastal city of Izmir, say allegations that he was linked to Kurdish rebels as well as Turkish cleric and alleged coup plotter Fethullah Gulen are absurd.

The lira has lost almost 40 per cent against the U.S. dollar this year, driven by worries over Mr Erdogan's growing control over the economy and his repeated calls for lower interest rates despite high inflation.

S&P said the downgrade of the debt rating to "B+" "reflects our expectation that the extreme volatility of the Turkish lira" which will undermine Turkey s economy.

The collapse of the currency has been blamed both on the tensions with the United States and Erdogan's increasing hold on Turkey's economy and his refusal to allow the central bank to raise interest rates. Turkey retaliated with some $533 million of tariffs on some US imports - including cars, tobacco and alcoholic drinks - and said it would boycott USA electronic goods.

The US has already imposed sanctions on two Turkish government ministers and doubled tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium imports.

An important emerging market, Turkey borders Iran, Iraq and Syria and has been mostly pro-Western for decades.

Erdogan has remained defiant, urging Turks to sell their gold and dollars for lira. "Would the amount of Turkey's debts decrease?"

Trump added: "We will pay nothing for the release of an innocent man, but we are cutting back on Turkey!"

Erdogan has recently held talks with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Brunson is accused of backing a 2016 coup attempt against Mr Erdogan, which Brunson denies. They are now holding our wonderful Christian Pastor, who I must now ask to represent our Country as a great patriot hostage.

The Turkish lira has plunged to record lows in recent weeks over an unprecedented spat with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally the United States over the detention of an American clergyman, Andrew Brunson, charged with espionage and terrorism.

  • Anthony Vega