Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on the country’s citizens to sell foreign currencies to support the lira which has seen a record plunge against the US dollar amid a diplomatic conflict with Washington.
“Change the euros, the dollars and the gold that you are keeping beneath your pillows into lira at our banks. This is a domestic and national struggle,” Erdogan said, as quoted by the Associated Press.
The Turkish currency dropped almost 20 percent on Friday, hitting a new low of 6.64 lira to the US dollar. The currency is currently heading for its worst week since 2001.
The latest diplomatic row between Washington and Ankara was sparked over the arrest of US evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson on terrorism charges in Turkey. Brunson was detained in connection with the failed military coup in 2016 to oust the country’s president. An official visit paid by the Turkish delegation to Washington didn’t bring the parties to any apparent solution to the crisis.
Brunson, a US citizen and a Turkish resident for over two decades, was arrested in Turkey on a charge of terrorism and espionage. He is facing up to 35 years in prison if found guilty of the charges.
According to Erdogan, the United States is waging an “economic war” against Turkey and he has called on the country’s citizens to respond.
“We are facing economic attacks today, and we need to defend our country,” the president said. “The economic attack against us now is the same as the coup attempt against us. I’m urging our country to increase outputs, to increase exports.”
Turkish stocks also saw a dramatic plunge on Friday, with the iShares MSCI Turkey ETF exchange declining by 11.4 percent. The ETF was already down 42.3 percent this year before Friday’s losses.
In July, US President Donald Trump pledged to impose “large sanctions” on Turkey if its authorities refused to free Brunson. Back then, the White House announced sanctions on Turkey’s justice and interior ministers, prohibiting US citizens from doing business with them.