Turkey, France agree to take action against U.S. sanctions on Turkey

Daniel Fowler
August 18, 2018

Turkey's battered lira weakened more than 6 percent against the dollar on Friday, Aug. 17, after a US warning that Ankara should expect more economic sanctions unless it hands over the detained American evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson.

He has denied the charges, and his case has been taken up by US President Donald Trump, who counts evangelical Christians among his core supporters.

"Turkey will emerge stronger from these (currency) fluctuations", Albayrak was quoted by state-run TRT television as saying during the conference call.

"We have put sanctions on several of their cabinet members", Mnuchin told President Donald Trump in a cabinet meeting attended by the press, including AFP.

Brunson's lawyer Ismail Cem Halavurt told CBS News on Friday that they may file another appeal with the court as, "depending on the developments, we can apply again".

Qatar also reportedly instructed some influential Qatari businessmen to buy more Turkish lira to boost the currency's resilience and speed the recovery process for Turkey. "We are not going to take it sitting down", Trump said.

In addition to its decision to ramp up tariffs on imports of Turkish steel and aluminium, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on two top officials in Erdogan's cabinet earlier this month as part of its efforts to pressure Ankara into freeing Brunson.

"They can't take our people", the president said, calling Brunson a "wonderful Christian pastor".

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Although Qatar has now pledged $15 billion it has not actually paid anything, and it may not be enough to solve Turkey's economic problems.

"Diplomatic negotiations hit speedbumps and that's not unusual in these kinds of situations", said Jay Sekulow, a personal attorney for Trump who is also representing Brunson's family.

The crisis has been precipitated by investor alarm about President Tayyip Erdogan's influence over monetary policy.

USA pastor Andrew Brunson arrives at his home after being released from prison in Izmir, Turkey on July 25, 2018.

"There has been no improvement in relations with the US and additional sanctions may be on the horizon", said William Jackson of Capital Economics in a note to clients, adding that the lira could see a downward trend in 2019 and beyond. The feud over Brunson, who was detained in October 2016, has added to the jitters over an economy that grew quickly, with the help of heavy borrowing, in past years.

If convicted, the American pastor faces up to 35 years in jail.

On Wednesday, however, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the USA imposed sanctions against its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally on "national security" grounds and that even if Turkey were to release Brunson-whose situation magnified the Ankara-Washington rift in the first place-US sanctions would still not be lifted.

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