Brunson tension harms US, Turkey relations: AKP spokesperson
United States officials’ statements over Pastor Andrew Brunson harm U.S.-Turkey relations, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson Mahir Ünal said, stating such statements “would not scare Turkey.”
“The United States should build a relation with Turkey on the ground of dialogue and courtesy. Such [statements] would not scare Turkey but it harms our long strategic model partnership,” Ünal said on a televised interview with private broadcaster CNN Türk on July 31.
Ünal’s words came amid intensifying tensions between U.S. and Turkish officials after U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence tweeted harsh comments against Turkey, calling for Brunson’s release “immediately,” if Turkey does not want to face “consequences.”
Brunson, a pastor from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades, was taken into custody in 2016 and arrested afterwards. After facing charges over having links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), he was recently released to be transferred for house arrest, prompting tensions between the two countries.
“The United States will impose large sanctions on Turkey for their long time detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson,” Trump said, while Pence also said “the U.S. will impose significant sanctions on Turkey” if Brunson is not freed.
Ünal slammed the comments, stating the issue has been referred to the judicial authorities and “U.S. officials should comply with the regulations of the Turkish judiciary.”
“Above all, this fails to comply with the courtesy of international relations and diplomacy. We cannot accept threatening language against Turkey,” he said.
“We move on without making any concessions from our responsibilities for our allies and international agreements. But if our alliance with the U.S. continues, the U.S. should know that our relations will be harmed,” he added.
He also criticized statements by U.S. officials over social media accounts, referring to it as “a strange method.”
“American rulers have developed such a style. They are considering to develop a strange method by which they aim to gain benefit by threatening a country over Twitter. Turkey is not a country that one can threaten and blackmail over social media,” he added.