Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed his country will not be brought to heel amid an ongoing diplomatic crisis with the United States.
Without naming the US directly, the Turkish leader on Monday said that there was no difference between attacks on the country’s economy and attacks on “our call to prayer and our flag”.
“The goal is the same. The goal is to bring to heel Turkey and the Turkish Nation, to hold it captive. We are a nation that prefers to be shot in the neck rather than to be chained at the neck,” he said in a video message before the of Eid al-Adha holiday.
Ties between Turkey and the US have deteriorated over a number of issues, such as conflicting aims in the Syrian conflict, Ankara’s planned buy of a Russian anti-aircraft system, and the detention of US Evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson, who Turkey accuses of supporting terrorist groups.
The US has rejected the accusations against Brunson and has demanded his release under the threat of punitive measures against its NATO allies.
Earlier this month, the US slapped sanctions on two Turkish ministers over Brunson’s house arrest, and promised further measures if he was not released.
Erdogan has also blamed outside powers for a burgeoning economic crisis, reflected in the tumbling value of the country’s currency, the lira.
The currency hit a low after US President Donald Trump announced tariffs on Turkish metal imports, falling to just over seven liras to the dollar but later recovered slightly to six liras to the dollar.
Turkey announced equivalent sanctions on US-produced goods, amounting to $1bn in total.
Erdogan has denounced Washington for declaring “economic war on the entire world” and holding countries “for ransom through sanction threats”.
A day after Trump’s tweet on August 10, the Turkish leader wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times, warning the US was jeopardising ties with Ankara, and that Turkey could look for “new friends and allies”, raising fears that it could turn towards Moscow.