Turkey president says US has launched 'attempted economic coup' as currency reels

'We will not surrender to those who act like a strategic partner but make us a strategic target,' says Recap Tayyip Erdogan

Colin Drury
Sunday 19 August 2018 10:47 BST
Erdogan defends Turkey's economy, accuses the US of jeopardising bilateral ties

Turkey's president has accused America of launching an “attempted economic coup” as the country’s currency continues to reel following US economic sanctions.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan told thousands of supporters in Ankara: “Today some people are trying to threaten us through the economy, through interest rates, foreign exchange, investment and inflation.

“We are telling them: we’ve seen your games, and we are challenging you.”

And, in a clear swipe at US president Donald Trump he added: "We did not and will not surrender to those who act like a strategic partner but make us a strategic target.”

Turkey has seen its economy thrown into turmoil this week after Washington imposed sanctions – including doubling tariffs on aluminium and steel – in retaliation for Mr Erdogan’s refusal to release an arrested American pastor.

Andrew Craig Brunson, from North Carolina, faces up to 35 years in jail in Turkey if convicted of espionage and terror-related charges. He maintains his innocence.

As the two countries have clashed, the lira's value has plummeted: it has now dropped 38 per cent against the dollar since the beginning of the year.

On Friday, ratings agencies Standard & Poor and Moody's downgraded Turkey's credit rating closer to "junk" status, pointing to currency fluctuations and concerns over central bank independence.

A spokesman for Standard & Poor said: “The downgrade reflects our expectation that the extreme volatility of the Turkish lira and the resulting projected sharp balance of payments adjustment will undermine Turkey's economy. We forecast a recession next year.”

He added the agency was predicting that the country’s inflation will hit a potential 22 per cent over the next four months.

Heavy selling of the lira in recent weeks has also spread to other emerging market currencies and global stocks and deepened concerns about the economy, particularly Turkey’s dependence on energy imports and whether its foreign-currency debt poses a risk to banks.

But on Saturday, as Mr Erdogan spoke at his ruling party's congress many supporters could be seen wearing shirts with the lira sign as a show of defiance, reports the Associated Press news agency.

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