Turkey President: Country is a target of economic war

ISTANBUL President Tayyip Erdogan denied on Saturday that Turkey is in a currency crisis, dismissing a plunge in the lira as "fluctuations" that have nothing to do with economic fundamentals.

Speaking after US President Donald Trump doubled tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium imports, Mr Erdogan described last week's 18 per cent fall in the lira to a record low as the "missiles" of an economic war waged against Turkey.

Mr Erdogan said those who plotted against Turkey in a failed coup attempt in July 2016 were now trying to target the country through its economy, and he pledged to fight back. He did not name any countries.

"Those who can't compete with us on the ground have brought online fictional currency plots that have nothing to with the realities of our country, production and real economy," Mr Erdogan told a provincial meeting of his AK Party in the Black Sea coastal town of Rize.

"The country is neither crumbling, nor being destroyed or bankrupt or in a crisis," he said, and added that the way out of the "currency plot" was to boost production and "minimise interest rates".

The lira has lost 40 per cent this year alone, over worries about Mr Erdogan's influence over the economy, his repeated calls for lower interest rates in the face of high inflation and deteriorating ties with the US.

Turkey borders Iran, Iraq and Syria and has been mostly pro-Western for decades. Financial upheaval risks further destabilising an already volatile region.

A meeting on Friday last week unveiling a new economic approach by Turkey's Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, Mr Erdogan's son-in-law, did little to offer support for the free-falling lira as investors sought concrete steps such as an interest rate increase to restore confidence. - REUTERS