Trump has been played, says Erdoğan
U.S. President Donald Trump has been “played,” leading to heightened tensions between Ankara and Washington over the detention in Turkey of an American pastor, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said.
Erdoğan also said Turkey will freeze the assets of two United States ministers as retaliation to Washington’s sanctions against Ankara.
“Trump has been played, and I very well know who played him,” Erdoğan said in a speech at the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) congress for its women’s organization in Ankara on Aug. 4.
“Mr. Trump should spoil this game. We are determined at this point and we will keep our stance as it is since we are honest.”
The U.S. had announced sanctions on Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu over “their role in the arrest of pastor Andrew Brunson” and blamed them for being behind “serious human rights abuses” in Turkey.
Brunson is in house arrest in the Aegean province of İzmir pending trial on terrorism charges.
Erdoğan reiterated that “the language of threats” will not work on Turkey.
“Those who think that Turkey will step back with the language of threats and nonsense investment decisions do not know this nation and this country,” the president added.
“It is understood that those who accuse us of not having knowledge of the U.S. [administrative] system are unaware of the history and culture of this nation. Turkey can not be a tool for domestic politics neither in Europe nor the U.S. The U.S. will gain nothing by repeating Europe’s mistakes.”
Erdoğan said Turkey has no intention of being a party to a “lose-lose game.”
“I believe that there are no unsolvable problems between us and the U.S., or any other state,” he said.
“We hope that our counterparts will give up hot-tempered attitude they have had for some time and return to their good senses.”
“The latest step taken by the U.S. in the incident of pastor Brunson in İzmir was not suitable to a strategic partner. The U.S. has displayed a serious disrespect with this step,” Erdoğan said.
“We have had shown patience until yesterday evening. Today I am instructing my friends that we will freeze the assets of U.S. secretaries of justice and interior in Turkey, if they exist,” he added.
He did not specify to which members of the U.S. administration he was referring.
The U.S. attorney general is Jeff Sessions, and while the United States does not have an interior ministry similar to Turkey, the secretary of the interior is Ryan Zinke and secretary of the Department of Homeland Security is Kirstjen Nielsen.