ANKARA (Reuters) - The commitment and determination of Turks is the guarantee needed to combat attacks on Turkey’s economy, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday, in his first comments on the currency crisis in days.
Turkey’s lira has tumbled some 40 percent this year as investor concerns over Erdogan’s grip on monetary policy and a growing dispute with the United States put pressure on the currency.
Erdogan has cast the rapid deterioration of the lira as an “economic war” and accused Washington of targeting Turkey over the fate of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor being tried in Turkey on terrorism charges that he denies.
The lira firmed against the U.S. dollar in thin holiday trade on Friday, after having hit a record low of 7.24 to the dollar earlier this month.
In two separate statements to commemorate the anniversaries of the Battle of Manzikert in 1071 and Victory Day, Erdogan said the unity of Turks against attacks targeting their political and economic independence would prevail.
“As we tackle attacks against the Turkish economy today, our biggest guarantee is the commitment and determination of every member of our people to take hold of their independence, nation, and future,” Erdogan said.
A Turkish court last week rejected an appeal for Brunson’s release, drawing a stiff rebuke from President Donald Trump, who said the United States would not take the detention “sitting down”.
Separately, after each downgrading Turkey by one notch, ratings agency Standard & Poor’s said it expected a recession next year while Moody’s said a weakening of Turkey’s public institutions had made policymaking less predictable.
Fitch Ratings had earlier said the absence of an orthodox monetary policy response to the lira’s fall and the rhetoric of Turkish authorities had “increased the difficulty of restoring economic stability and sustainability”.
Erdogan, who has cast the currency crisis as no different than attacks on Turkey’s flag or call to prayer, has repeatedly asked Turks to convert their gold and dollars into lira to prop up the ailing economy, saying Turkey would overcome the crisis.
On Saturday, he said that nobody would keep Turkey from reaching its 2023, 2053 and 2071 targets, dates that mark the centennial anniversary of the Turkish Republic, the 600th anniversary of the conquering of Istanbul, and the 1000th anniversary of the Battle of Manzikert respectively.
Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Alison Williams