Turkey’s Erdogan says U.S.’s threatening language will not benefit anyone

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Turkey’s Erdogan

The threatening language of the U.S. will not benefit anyone, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday, as relations between the NATO allies soured over the case of a U.S. pastor jailed in Turkey on terrorism charges.
Speaking to newsmen in Ankara, Erdogan said Turkey would not make compromises regarding the independence of the judiciary, and said the remarks of the “evangelist, zionist mentality” in the U.S. was unacceptable.
He also said his foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, would hold talks with U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting in Singapore.
On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said house arrest was “not enough” and called on Turkish authorities to “resolve his case immediately in a transparent and fair manner.”
Brunson was arrested in September 2016, in the aftermath of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt in Turkey blamed on Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).
He is accused of links to FETÖ as well as the PKK terrorist group, along with political espionage. He was a pastor at the Evangelic Resurrection Church in the western city of Izmir before his arrest.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister responded by saying that Turkey was governed by the rule of law. “We will never tolerate threats from anybody,” Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Twitter.
“No one can threaten or give orders to Turkey,” said Hami Aksoy, a spokesman for the ministry. Turkey has shown political will to improve relations with the U.S., he said, calling on Washington to engage in dialogue.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said: “Turkey is a sovereign state with a deep-rooted democratic tradition and political order which upholds the supremacy of law. No one can give orders to Turkey and threaten our country.
The rhetoric of threat against Turkey is unacceptable.”
Aksoy said Turkey has already done “more than enough” and displayed political will regarding the issue.
“As regards the Brunson case, necessary information has been provided to our U.S. counterparts on various occasions and it has been clearly expressed that this issue is totally within the competence of the independent Turkish judiciary,” Aksoy said.
President Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın also warned Washington over its threatening language and said the U.S. administration will not “reach desired results by threatening Turkey over an issue which falls within the jurisdiction of our country’s independent judiciary.”
The spokesman also criticized the U.S. for not taking any steps against FETÖ.
Kalın urged the U.S. to reconsider its approach and adopt a constructive position before inflicting further damage to its own interests and alliance with Turkey.
The U.S. administration, which has taken no steps whatsoever against the terrorist group FETÖ until today, must understand that it cannot reach desired results by threatening Turkey over an issue, which falls within the jurisdiction of our country’s independent judiciary.
Vice President Fuat Oktay also commented on the matter, saying Turkey will not bow to “cheap threats” and the U.S. has to respect independent Turkish judicial system.
Evangelical Christians have long lobbied for Washington to exert pressure on Ankara to secure Brunson’s release and Trump’s decision to greenlight sanctions shows the risks he is willing to take in order to avoid displeasing the evangelicals.
Anti-American sentiment is already on the rise in Turkey, as surveys after the 2016 coup attempt show, linking the rise to Washington’s reluctance to hand over FETÖ leader Fetullah Gülen.
A court in Izmir has ordered his imprisonment to be commuted to house arrest, citing Brunson’s health problems. He will be also fitted with an ankle monitor and barred from leaving the country.
He is scheduled to appear before a court in October for his third hearing, after the court rejected an appeal for his release in a July 18 hearing. (Reuters/NAN)

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