Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has sharply criticized the United States decision to double tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum imports, calling the move as an “operation” and portraying the plunge in the Turkish currency’s value as an “economic war” against Turkey.
“It is making an operation against Turkey … Its aim is to force Turkey to surrender in every field from finance to politics, to make Turkey and the Turkish nation kneel down,” Erdoğansaid in a speech at the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) meeting in the Black Sea province of Trabzon on Aug. 12.
On Aug. 10, the lira, which had already lost more than a quarter of its value against foreign currencies in 2018, tumbled to a fresh low of more than 6.6 per dollar following U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to double tariffs on aluminum and steel imports from Turkey to 20 percent and 50 percent, respectively.
The Turkish Trade Ministry called the move “illegal,” pointing to the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.
“They have been trying to achieve what they failed to do through provocations and a coup attempt with money now,” he said.
“If you advance upon us by the dollar, we will look for other means to carry on our business,” he added.
Relations between Turkey and the U.S. have been tense over a range of issues, from the Syrian conflict to the imprisonment of American pastor Andrew Brunson.
Erdoğan rejected requests to return Brunson to the U.S., recalling the indictment of terrorism charges against him.
He also accused the U.S. of cooperating with terrorist organizations for its support to the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey deems as the offshoots of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who Turkey, the EU and the U.S. identify as a terrorist organization.
Erdoğan had warned the U.S. is “changing a strategic NATO partner with a pastor” in his speech in the Black Sea province of Ordu on Aug. 11.
“We only bow down before God. It is wrong to try to chasten Turkey for a priest here. I am addressing the U.S. once again: It’s a shame. You are changing a strategic NATO partner with a pastor. We will only do whatever justice requires,” he had said.