Sputnik: What do you make of the situation around Andrew Brunson?
Nicolai Due-Gundersen: To be honest, he’s been living in Turkey for 23 years, so it does seem it comes out of nowhere. It comes in the context of Erdogan going after exiles in the US in response to the failed coup attempt… I believe he’s been a political pawn in this game.
Sputnik: Could we see a compromise and see the US hand over Fethullah Gulen to Turkey?
Nicolai Due-Gundersen: This is exactly what Erdogan wants, there have been rumors that he’s been wanting to swap Andrew Brunson with Gulen. It’s obvious that he wants to use Brunson as a political hostage and get back his final point Gulen from the US.
Nicolai Due-Gundersen: Well, this is certainly a problem. We have to look at the wider consequences between the relationship between Trump and Erdogan. Turkey is a NATO ally, that’s one. Also, they are heavily involved in Syria, at a time when Trump is considering withdrawing from Syria. I know Trump and Erdogan have been butting heads over the Kurdish situation in Syria and the use of Kurdish militia by the US. So I think that there will be far-reaching political consequences no matter what happens, even if the swap goes ahead. Turkish-US relations are going to be further damaged.
Sputnik: Can they reach an agreement without them being used as political prisoners.
Nicolai Due-Gundersen: Well, I think this will irk Erdogan. Trump himself until recently was praising Erdogan; Trump praised him in a White House visit and congratulated him on his re-election. Right now, what we are seeing especially after the coup, Erdogan wants to secure his position and in his mind the final opponent is Gulen, so Erdogan won’t budge easily.
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