Turkey releases US pastor Brunson

A Turkish court has freed US pastor Andrew Brunson, who had been detained in Turkey for two years. The US imposed sanctions on Ankara over his being kept under house arrest for alleged espionage and supporting the Kurdish Workers' Party PKK. What does Brunson's release mean for relations between the two countries and Turkey's economy?

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Kathimerini (GR) /

Still no sign of détente

Tensions will soon rise again between Turkey and the US, Kathimerini predicts:

“When sanctions are imposed against Iran on November 5, the friction between Ankara and Washington will no doubt increase. ... Turkey supplies oil and gas from its neighbour and wants to avoid sanctions. It's still too soon to say if the policy of taking foreign citizens hostage has benefited Turkey or if it will be made to pay for it this time around. If Erdoğan risks hitting a wall, in the interest of self-preservation he clearly won't insist on his mistakes.”

T24 (TR) /

Trial scaring off investors

The Brunson trial has also harmed the Turkish economy, T24 believes:

“Are the foreign investors returning to Turkey? ... The crisis is basically not an obstacle for foreign investors who want to set up factories or have products manufactured here. On the contrary: you could even say that the lira's drop in value lowers production costs and thus acts as an added incentive. Yet they're not coming back. Why should they when they see what happens in the Brunson trial (and others like it)? ... Because the law, democracy and the economy are closely linked.”

Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

Arbitrary justice

Brunson's release has shown once again that not the judiciary but only Erdoğan has the say in Turkey, the Frankfurter Rundschau writes:

“'As long as I'm in office you won't get this terrorist.' ... And suddenly there's a change of tune. The dangerous terrorist Brunson was released from custody on Friday and a plane was there to pick him up. And to top it all, Erdoğan's spokesman announced: 'This judgement shows that Turkey is a democratic, constitutional democracy with an independent and impartial judiciary.' Everything was negotiated and agreed on in advance, for fear of additional US sanctions that could have further exacerbated the Turkish economic crisis. And because due to the unstable situation in the Middle East the US is needed as an ally. Completely arbitrary justice.”

Sabah (TR) /

Improved relations between Trump and Erdoğan

The pro-government Turkish daily Sabah is delighted about the détente in diplomatic relations between the two countries:

“Beyond its legal dimension the Brunson trial also has a political dimension. It was the basis for serious tensions between Washington and Ankara. It was the reason why US President Trump, under pressure from the Evangelists, made Turkey the target of his tweets and imposed sanctions. One can say that with the decision of the court in Izmir one of the issues that caused tensions between the two capitals has been resolved. ... This is very advantageous as regards bilateral relations.”

Sözcü (TR) /

A new culprit for the economic crisis needed

Ankara has blamed Turkey's poor economic situation on US sanctions. But with Brunson's release the government also loses its rationale for Turkey's economic crisis, Sözcü comments:

“The positive impact on the markets won't last for long. And when the markets aren't doing well and the debt limit has been reached, the release of a pastor isn't going to help the country. Not even the dollar's exchange rate budged one bit when the sentence was handed down! ... Now that the pastor is gone a new enemy must be found. How else are we to explain to the people why the economic situation is getting worse and worse? Perhaps foreign powers will once again be blamed. Or the Knights Templar. No worries: one lobby or another will be found.”