Trump says Turkey has ‘acted badly’ in Brunson case

US President Donald Trump on Friday said the United States was not going to take Turkey’s detention of US Christian pastor Andrew Brunson “sitting down,” a day after his Treasury chief said Washington could hit Ankara with further sanctions, Reuters reported.

“They should have given him back a long time ago, and Turkey has, in my opinion, acted very, very badly,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “So, we haven’t seen the last of that. We are not going to take it sitting down. They can’t take our people.”

“They made up this phony charge that he’s a spy, and he’s not a spy. He’s going through a trial right now if you call it a trial,” he added.

Turkey-US relations have been strained since a Turkish court ruled to put Brunson under house arrest after almost two years of incarceration on terror charges.

Brunson has appealed the decision three times, but each petition was rejected by İzmir high criminal courts.

“Turkey has taken advantage of the United States for many years. They are now holding our wonderful Christian Pastor, who I must now ask to represent our Country as a great patriot hostage. We will pay nothing for the release of an innocent man, but we are cutting back on Turkey!” Trump tweeted on Thursday, after a cabinet meeting.

The US administration has sanctioned Turkey’s justice and interior ministers due to the Brunson case.

Turkey has been facing a currency crisis since then as the country’s national currency has lost almost one-third of its value. As of Friday, the Turkish lira firmed to 6,07 against the US dollar from a historic low of 7,40 seen on Monday.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s Treasury and Finance Ministry, as well as the Industry and Technology Ministry, has announced a series of measures to defend businesses amid the ongoing market and foreign exchange volatility.

“We have been continuing the implementation of our action plan put into effect in order to ease our banks and real sector after the exchange rate increase, as we have been continuing with the policies to neutralize the economic attacks on our country and make the fundamentals of our economy stronger,” the Treasury and Finance Ministry said in a statement on Friday.

The package of measures aimed at easing the local credit market will be offered to the banks by the Banks Association of Turkey, it added.

The measures include keeping the credit channels open, providing elasticity in credit pricing and periods and not closing off credit in case of overdraft because of exchange rate increases, according to the statement.

Delayed payments, overdraft cheques and protested bills as of Aug. 8 will be reported to the Risk Center as “force majeure” because of the economic turmoil, thus firms’ access to credit will not be halted.

The Industry and Technology Ministry also announced a 16-point support package for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), entrepreneurs and industrialists.

The package abides by tight fiscal policies and will not cause monetary expansion, the ministry said in a statement on Aug. 17.

“We are accelerating our moves for indigenous technology and localization in order to protect our technology entrepreneurs and industrialists from economic attacks on Turkey,” said Mustafa Varank, the industry and technology minister.

Varank said the package would not impose any additional burden on Turkey’s budget.

Analyzing over 2,700 product lines made up of Turkey’s imports of intermediate goods, the ministry started a localization program for priority product lines equal to imports with a minimum value of $30 billion.

The package includes various measures such as price advantages for local products, averting unfair competition, improving the real sector’s innovation and competition capabilities, updating the FX differences of R&D support, export incentives for SMEs and encouraging patent, trademark and design work.

It also aims to energize domestic potential by providing 500 million Turkish lira ($80 million) for 500 projects. Focusing on technology development zones, the ministry will extend 100 million Turkish lira ($16 million) to them by the end of 2018. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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