New York trial US conspiracy against Turkey, Erdoğan says

"Turkey has no plans against the United States, but it is clear that the U.S. has plans against us," Erdoğan said
Tuesday, 05 December 2017 16:30

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday is calling the New York trial of a Turkish banker a U.S. conspiracy being staged to "blackmail" and "blemish" his country.

"The case in the U.S. has the same aim, to realize the same intention in the international area," said Erdoğan, accusing his former ally, Gülen network. 

"The claim of a plot in the indictment of the case is correct. But this plot wasn’t against the U.S. but Turkey. Turkey has no plans against the United States, but it is clear that the U.S. has plans against us," Erdoğan said.

Iranian-Turkish tycoon Reza Zarrab has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with U.S. prosecutors in the criminal trial of state-owned Halkbank executive Mehmet Hakan Atilla accused of conspiring to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Erdoğan characterized the trial against Atilla as a ploy to distract Turkey while Washington allegedly hatches plans to strengthen Syrian Kurdish groups that Turkey considers to be "terrorists."

'TURKEY COULD BREAK OFF TIES WITH ISRAEL OVER JERUSALEM

Erdoğan also said Turkish government could go as far as breaking off diplomatic ties with Israel if Washington formally recognises Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

U.S. officials have said Trump is likely to give a speech on Wednesday unilaterally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly promised to relocate the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. 

"I am saddened by the reports that the U.S. is getting ready to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Mr. Trump, Jerusalem is a red line for Muslims," Erdoğan told a parliamentary group meeting of his ruling AKP party. 

"It is a violation of international law to take a decision supporting Israel while Palestinian society's wounds are still bleeding," he added.

"Such a decision will be a heavy blow for all mankind. We will not leave it. We will fight to the end. We may even reach severance of diplomatic relations with Israel. I once again warn the United States not to take steps that will further deepen the crisis in the region," Erdoğan said.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon hit back at the Turkish president, saying Jerusalem has been Israel’s capital for 70 years, "whether Erdoğan recognizes it or not."

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, a senior partner in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government, brushed off Erdoğan's comments. "There will always be those who criticize, but at the end of the day it is better to have a united Jerusalem than Erdoğan's sympathy," he said.