ISTANBUL: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had remained unusually silent until now as the lira crisis mounted, urged Turks to take matters into their own hands.
Addressing for the first time on Friday to a rally of his supporters, he said, “If they have dollars, we have our people, we have our right and we have Allah!” “The dollar does not bind us,” he told.
Erdogan called on Turks to support the struggling Turkish lira by exchanging any foreign currency and gold, saying Turkey faced “an economic war”.
“If you have dollars, euros or gold under your pillow, go to banks to exchange them for Turkish lira. It is a national fight,” he said.
Turkey remains at loggerheads with the United States over the detention for the last two years of American pastor Andrew Brunson and a host of other issues.
“This will be the response to those who have declared an economic war,” he said, blaming Turkey’s woes on what he described as an “interest rate lobby” seeking to push the country to higher rates.
Trump intensified the alarm on financial markets with a new tweet on the Turkey row.
“I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar!” Trump said on Twitter.
I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar! Aluminum will now be 20% and Steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 10, 2018
But Erdogan said Turks should not be alarmed by exchange rate movements. “The dollar, the mollar, will not cut our path,” said Erdogan using a figure of speech he repeatedly uses to mock something.
“Do not worry!” He said Turkey was not afraid of “threats” and added Turkey had “alternatives” for economic cooperation in many places “from Iran, to Russia, to China and some European countries”.
The Turkish currency lira tumbled by 7% on August 10 – a historic record against the dollar as strains with the United States intensified.
The lira’s plunge is one of the most serious economic crises that Erdogan has faced since coming to power in 2003 in the wake of a financial crisis in 2001 that brought the economy to near meltdown.