After the United States demanded release of an American pastor arrested on charges of terrorism by Turkey two years ago, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday warned US of losing a ‘strategic partner’.
"We only bow before God. It is wrong to try to punish Turkey for a priest who is here. I am addressing the US once again: it is a pity that you chose a pastor over your strategic partner in NATO. We will only do what justice demands," Erdogan said during a rally in the northern province of Ordu.
20-year-old US pastor Andrew Brunson was arrested by the Turkish authorities two years ago and is accused of being linked to the PKK Kurdish guerrilla organization and to cleric Fetullah Gulen, who lives in exile in the US and whom Ankara blames for the failed coup against Erdogan in 2016.
The US government had last week imposed economic sanctions against two Turkish ministers involved in Brunson's arrest.
Increase in tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium by up to 50 and 20 percent, respectively were also announced by US President Donald Trump on Friday.
Ankara has ruled out the release of Brunson, although he was granted house arrest in July.
In an attempt to reduce tensions between the two countries, a delegation from Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign affairs had travelled to the US this week.
Regarding the situation of the Turkish currency, Erdogan once again called on his fellow citizens to back the lira, which depreciated 18 percent on Friday, by selling their dollars and euros.
"If you have dollars under your pillow, take them out. If you have euros, do the same. Take them immediately to the banks and convert them into liras. By doing this, we fight for our independence and our future," Erdogan told his supporters.