The pastor’s fate

Dünya Executive - - COVER PAGE - ASLI AYDINTASBA­S

Pastor Andrew Brunson is at the center of Turkey-U.S. relations.

Why is he so important?

It’s no secret that the arrest of American reverend Andrew Brunson is a serious matter of negotiatio­n between Ankara and Washington...According to diplomatic rumors, Brunson should have been freed at his hearing on July 18 and Hakan Atilla wshould have been sent to Turkey in return. There was no one who did not hear about this agreement...But, for unknown reasons, July 18 was a surprise; the deal was laid aside. A Turkey expert in Washington in the know said that the plane was ready to depart but Ankara came up with new demands at the last minute. We do not know what is going on, why the agreement was laid aside and why house arrest came up. Obviously, there is some hard bargaining going on between the two capitals. Ankara’s demand list from Washington is long: It does not want to be exposed to sanctions because of its purchase of the S-400s. It wants a resolution on F-35s. It wants a series of lawsuits initiated by the U.S. Congress to disappear. And most importantl­y, during this most fragile period of the economy, it does not want to suffer a great shock on the Halkbank issue. It wants Halkbank’s punishment, expected to be decided in autumn, to be small and wants to be exempted from economic sanctions against Iran in the coming period...Brunson’s next hearing is in October. In the climax of this drama we will see the American priest return to his country and Hakan Atilla come to Turkey. But when will that time will come, and what will happen in the interim, we will all watch together...

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