UPDATE – Turkish economy is solid, strong: President Erdogan

UPDATES WITH MORE QUOTES

By Cansu Dikme and Merve Aydogan

ANKARA (AA) – Turkey has a “solid and strong” economic dynamics in the face of the recent “economic siege” of the country, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.

“Turkey’s economic dynamics are solid, strong and intact, and they will continue to be intact,” Erdogan told Turkish ambassadors during an address at the presidential complex in capital Ankara.

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump ramped up his attack on Turkey by raising U.S. tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel imports to 20 percent and 50 percent, respectively.

"There is the World Trade Organization but when we look at these steps taken [against Turkey] does it have anything to do with the principles of World Trade Organization? Be a president or whatever you want to be. [But] You cannot just wake up one morning and say: 'I applied this much of tariffs on aluminum and steel'," Erdogan said.

He said there was no basis for the recent exchange rates development.

“Turkey is under siege in the economy, as in other areas.

"On the one hand you are going to be a strategic partner and on the other hand you put a bullet into your strategic partner," Erdogan said.

Relations between the countries soured after Trump threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey over American Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson, who was arrested in the Aegean province of Izmir in December 2016.

Brunson was charged with committing crimes, including spying for the PKK — listed as a terrorist group by both the U.S. and Turkey — and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the defeated coup attempt of July 2016.

Turkish prosecutors are seeking 15 years in prison for Brunson for committing crimes on behalf of terrorist groups without being a member, with up to 20 years for political or military espionage.

Erdogan gave assurances that the exchange rates would return to "reasonable levels soon". He called on the Turkish ambassadors to continue working in "a spirit of mobilization" and urged them to work more efficiently and in much more result oriented way in the new period.

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