ANKARA, Turkey: Turkey’s president has announced that the country would pursue non-dollar transactions in trade with other countries as recent US sanctions have clearly showed that the Trump administration is behaving like “wild wolves.”
President Recep Tayyib Erdogan told a business forum during a visit to Kyrgyzstan that negotiations are already underway between Turkey and Russia on not using American dollars in bilateral trade or transactions.
“We need to gradually end the monopoly of the dollar once and for all by using local and national currency among us,” he said.
Both Turkey and Russia are reeling from punitive economic measures imposed by the United States.
The Turkish lira has taken a severe dive since the beginning of the year, particularly last month. The currency lost more than 40 percent of its value against the US dollar amid macroeconomic concerns and the diplomatic showdown between the US and Turkey over the detention of an American pastor.
“America behaves like wild wolves. Don’t believe them,” said Erdogan. “Using the dollar only damages us. We will not give up. We will be victorious.”
Relations between the NATO members hit a new low last month as US President Donald Trump announced steep new tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium in response to the detention of US pastor Andrew Brunson on terrorism-related charges.
Russia, meanwhile, saw its currency tumble to two-year lows in August after the US announced new sanctions in connection with the nerve-agent poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter.
The US, UK, and other countries blamed Russia for the attack, allegations Moscow denied.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov last month accused US officials of “using methods of sanctions, threats, blackmail and diktat”.
Turkey is resolved to establish economic independence, particulary in its defence industry, Erdogan said on Sunday.
Turkey last year announced an agreement to buy Russia’s most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system – S-400 – by early 2020. The move angered the US because the defence system isn’t compatible with NATO’s military hardware.
In June, the US Senate passed a bill prohibiting sales to Turkey of F-35 jets, citing the S-400 purchase, as well as Turkey’s detention of US citizens.
Erdogan said on Sunday that “some are disturbed by this” S-400 purchase, adding Turkey does not need permission from anyone to guard its territory.
‘Seems to be gambling’
The escalating row between Ankara and Washington is risky for both countries as Erdogan stares down his powerful Western ally, analysts say.
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“This willingness [by Erdogan] reflects not only nationalist bravado but also an assumption about the rapid advent of a more multipolar world,” Nick Danforth, a senior policy analyst for the Bipartistan Policy Center’s national security programme, wrote in The New York Times last week.
“He seems to be gambling that Washington has proved more effective in alienating its allies than he has, and that the American-led global order collapses before the Turkish economy does.”