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Oct 11 2018

‘Reckless’ Erdoğan is ruining Turkey's economy - Netanyahu

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has become “reckless” and is ruining the country’s economy, according to Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Erdoğan is making economic decision that make no sense,” Netanyahu reportedly told the foreign ministers of Greece and Cyprus last month. “The situation there is getting worse.”

The two presidents have exchanged verbal salvos on several occasions this year over deadly clashes along Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, with Erdoğan accusing Israel of state-sponsored terrorism and fascist tendencies. Meanwhile the Turkish lira has tumbled almost 40 percent against the dollar this year, sending Turkey’s economy into a tail-spin just as Erdoğan prepares to fight local elections in March.

Netanyahu warned that Erdoğan may attempt to sabotage natural gas extraction in the eastern Mediterranean around Cyprus in an ongoing dispute over drilling rights, the Times of Israel said, citing comments by unidentified Israeli officials to local news network Channel 10.

“Erdoğan is unpredictable and reckless. We’re worried and watching to see if he does something in the region (about the gas)… I’m pessimistic.”

U.S. firm ExxonMobil is among companies that have signed natural gas deals with the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey says drilling mustn’t go ahead without the full involvement of Turkish Cyprus. The island has been divided along ethnic lines since 1974, when Turkey invaded in response to a Greek Cypriot coup supported by Athens.

Netanyahu said the recent flare-up in tensions between Israel and Turkey, which has led to the tit-for-tat expulsion of the two countries’ most senior diplomats, has also put an end to bilateral intelligence cooperation on Syria.

“Erdoğan calls me ‘Hitler’ every two weeks. It’s a systemic problem – I don’t see light at the end of the tunnel,” Netanyahu said, expressing concern about Turkey’s impending acquisition of F-35 stealth fighter jets from the United States.

Despite the bilateral tensions, Netanyahu said he had agreed to help repair fraying relations between Erdoğan and U.S. President Donald Trump over the internment of pastor Andrew Brunson and other Americans.

Netanyahu told the officials that he didn’t expect the tensions between Ankara and Washington to dissipate until after U.S. mid-term elections.

“Trump won’t ease up the pressure (on Brunson),” he said, according to Channel 10.

A Turkish court is due to hear Brunson’s case in the western city of Izmir on Friday. Investors in Turkey have warned that failure to release him from house arrest threatens to reignite a sell-off in Turkey’s financial markets.