Turkey to freeze assets of two US ministers as retaliation to sanctions: Erdoğan

Turkey will freeze the assets of two United States ministers as retaliation to Washington’s sanctions against Ankara, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced.

“The latest step taken by the U.S. in the incident of Pastor Brunson in İzmir was not suitable to a strategic partner. The U.S. has displayed a serious disrespect with this step,” Erdoğan said in a speech at the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) congress for its women’s organization in Ankara on Aug. 4.

“We have had shown patience until yesterday evening. Today I am instructing my friends that we will freeze the assets of U.S. secretaries of justice and interior in Turkey, if they exist,” he added.

“Those who think that they can make Turkey take a step back by resorting to threatening language and absurd sanctions show that they do not know the Turkish nation.”

FM Çavuşoğlu: Let’s sit down and talk

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also vowed that “threatening language will not make Turkish nation bow down.”

In a speech to the AKP’s advisory assembly in the southern province of Antalya, Çavuşoğlu said: “No one can get a result from Turkey with pressure and sanctions.

We are bringing up the current problems. Are you interested in coping with them as two allies? Then let’s sit down and talk about how we can solve them, how we can activate our bilateral working groups. This is how we can solve them. Imposition won’t work.”

The U.S. had announced sanctions on Turkey’s justice and interior ministers on the grounds their responsibility for implementing serious human rights violations against imprisoned Pastor Andrew Brunson.

Under the current U.S. sanctions, any property, or interest in property, belonging to Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu within U.S. jurisdiction would be blocked. Americans would generally be prohibited from doing business with them.

Turkey had said it would retaliate the sanctions in the same way.

Brunson, a Christian pastor from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades, was indicted on charges of having links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and FETÖ, which Ankara blames for the failed coup in 2016.

He was transferred to house arrest on July 25, which triggered strong statements from U.S. officials including President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.