The U.S. administration's threatening attitude is a reflection of their unwillingness to find a solution to the bilateral tensions with Turkey, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said yesterday.
"We have put diplomacy to work. We made suggestions on how to reach a solution," the foreign minister said, and added, however, the U.S. uses "threatening language, an understanding of dictating." Çavuşoğlu's remarks were made in southern Antalya province in a press conference with his Serbian counterpart Ivica Dacic following the inauguration of Serbia's honorary consulate in Antalya.
Turkey and the U.S. have been locked in a heated crisis emanating from sanctions imposed on Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül for not releasing American pastor Andrew Brunson, who faces terrorism charges in Turkey, which was also followed by the Trump administration announcing the doubling of steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkish imports.
In overcoming the row between Ankara and Washington, "It is not possible to reach a point with this approach," the Turkish foreign minister added.
Çavuşoğlu reiterated Turkey's position that the judicial process must be respected in the country with regard to the Brunson case.
"All problems can be solved, but not with threats and dictating," Çavuşoğlu said. He added, however, that the U.S. does not seem to be in favor of finding a solution and that the Trump administration is acting "only with its own political concerns and want to use it as a tool for domestic politics and extend it until the upcoming [midterm] elections" [in the U.S.]. Pundits have said that Washington's insistence on undiplomatic preconditions, including the extrajudicial release of Brunson, which have put a deep dent in bilateral relations with Turkey, is to gain an advantage for Trump in the U.S. midterm elections scheduled for November.
The Turkish foreign minister added that the there are conflictual voices emerging from Washington in what he described as "chaos" in Trump's administration.
In his remarks, Dacic said Serbia will "never take part in a coalition that would work against Turkey."
Dacic recalled Serbia's unhesitating support after the July 15,2016 coup attempt in Turkey, saying "Serbia did not think what will happen to Erdoğan," and that Serbia condemned the coup attempt immediately. The Serbian foreign minister also highlighted the growing bilateral economic relations and added that Serbia seeks to expand the growth in economic relations to other areas as well. Turkey has received international support from the EU, Russia, China, Qatar and many other countries around the world on what Ankara has termed as an "economic war." The Turkish government has said that the U.S. has launched an economic war on Turkey to weaken its growth and ultimately the target is President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
In response to U.S. sanctions, Turkey increased tariffs on several U.S. products including alcohol, tobacco products, cosmetic products and cars. It also said it would freeze the assets of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.
Brunson, a Christian pastor from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades, was indicted on charges of helping the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), which is responsible for the failed 2016 coup, as well as supporting the PKK, and was later moved to house arrest on July 25 due to his health problems. Serving at the Resurrection Protestant Church in the western province of Izmir, Brunson was arrested in October 2016.
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