10:41 GMT20 January 2021
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    Pastor Andrew Brunson has thanked Donald Trump for his assistance in freeing him from a Turkish prison, and prayed for the president to be given the "supernatural wisdom" to "accomplish all the plans" he has for the US. Trump in turn thanked President Erdogan, but denied that any sort of deal had been made in exchange for Brunson's release.

    Speaking to Radio Sputnik, Salih Dogan, a researcher in politics and international affairs specializing in Turkish politics and foreign policy at Keele University, outlined Ankara and Washington's possible next steps.

    Sputnik: Why did Ankara agree to free the pastor at all in your view?

    Salih Dogan: Ankara has been going through quite a hard time for a long time, but especially in the last two to three months. Turkey has had lots of political difficulties, and both within Turkey and in the international arena, and Turkey-US relations have been going through a hard time, and it was maybe the low point in the history of Turkish-American relations.

    So I guess official Ankara thought that something needs to be done about the dispute with Washington to make some moves [to improve relations], since Turkey has been having a hard time economically, financially and also politically and socially in the last few months.

    Sputnik: How soon do you think we'll actually see an improvement in relations? What kind of steps can be taken, given that there's also been this trade spat between the two countries?

    Salih Dogan: If [the US and Turkey] just avoid these increased tariffs, which was done just two months ago, and which was the reason that the Turkish lira took a dive against the US dollar and lost lots of value in the last few months, this is a decision that Turkey needs.

    I can't really say how long it will take, but we should just wait in see. Actually, if there is an agreement, and if Turkey wanted something from the United States with the release of the pastor, we will see in the following weeks.

    Sputnik: How much of a victory was this for President Donald Trump, with the midterms just weeks away? He's referred to the pastor really "galvanizing" the nation. Would you say that this is a big win for him?

    Salih Dogan: It is a win for President Trump. I can't really say that it's a big win. Actually, Trump took this agenda and always tried to mention the pastor, and Pastor Brunson visited Trump [immediately after coming] back to the United States. He didn't even wait a couple of days to do this visit. 

    So it seems that President Trump is using the release of Pastor Brunson to show it as quite a big victory for himself, but Trump has lots of difficulties. This was only one case, and it seems that yes, he has [succeeded] in making a great topic about it and talking, tweeting and making statements about this issue to the press several times. So it seems a big victory. But as I said, President Trump has lots of difficulties both in the United States and also internationally, and I don't think it will necessary for him to be reelected in the next two years.

    The views expressed by Mr Salih Dogan are those of the observer and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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