Trump warns Turkey after court rejects freedom for USA pastor

19 August, 2018, 00:29 | Author: Mary Valdez
  • US dollar banknotes are seen in this

Pastor Andrew Brunson's fate is important to evangelical voters in the looming midterm elections in November, so Washington may impose more sanctions on allied Ankara, a former Turkish envoy to the U.S. says.

The fight between Turkey and the USA has escalated in recent weeks.

The United States on Wednesday ruled out removing steel tariffs that have contributed to a currency crisis in Turkey even if Ankara frees a USA pastor, as Qatar pledged US$15 billion in investment to Turkey, supporting a rise in the Turkish lira. "If the traitor in Pennsylvania is extradited to our country, the handover of the pastor may be in the offing, and both countries will get what they want", Devlet Bahceli, leader of a far-right political party allied with Erdogan, said Wednesday in Ankara, according to the Anadolu news agency.

"Turkey will continue cross-border operations by expanding them further", Erdogan said.

Whatever action the United States takes looks likely to cause more pain for Turkish assets.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, was down 0.56 percent at 96.107, on pace for its worst daily decline in almost a month.

All the while, the lira has plummeted - even reaching a record low against the US dollar early Monday before managing modest rallies in the following days.

A banking watchdog's step to limit foreign exchange swap transactions also helped the currency.

Yesterday, a Turkish court rejected an appeal to release Brunson from house arrest, broadcaster Haberturk said.

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Turkey and its firms face repayments of almost $3.8 billion on foreign currency bonds in October, Societe Generale has calculated.

Turkey is struggling to stabilize its currency after it plunged to a record low in a crisis that spurred fears of bankruptcies and a spillover effect in other emerging markets if Turkish firms can't pay back high foreign debt.

Debt rating downgrades typically mean higher borrowing costs as investors demand steeper interest rates to take on riskier debt.

The US comments came after finance minister Berat Albayrak, Mr Erdogan's son-in-law, assured investors on Thursday that Turkey would emerge stronger from its currency crisis, insisting its banks were healthy and signalling it could ride out the dispute.

The diplomatic spat is also taking a toll on Turkey's currency, the lira.

Deep concerns remain about the potential for damage to the economy, however.

Though Turkey's financial troubles did not originate with the battle over Brunson's release, the moves have sped up the Turkish economy's decline. But foreign currency deposits held by local investors rose to $159.9 billion in the week to August 10, from $158.6 billion a week earlier, central bank data showed.

But he suggested Turkish "policymakers only really seem to have done the minimum needed".

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