ISTANBUL, Oct 24 (Reuters) – President Tayyip Erdogan’s political opponents said on Sunday that his call to expel the ambassadors of 10 Western allies was a bid to divert attention from Turkey’s economic difficulties, while diplomats hoped the expulsions might yet be averted.
On Saturday, Erdogan said he had ordered the envoys be declared ‘persona non grata’ for seeking philanthropist Osman Kavala’s release from prison.
By Sunday evening, there was no sign that the foreign ministry had yet carried out the instruction, which would open the deepest rift with the West in Erdogan’s 19 years in power.
The diplomatic crisis coincides with investor worries about the Turkish lira’s fall to a record low after the central bank, under pressure from Erdogan to stimulate the economy, unexpectedly slashed interest rates by 200 points last week.
The lira hit a fresh all-time low in early Asian trade, weakening 1.6% to 9.75 per dollar in a move that bankers attributed to Erdogan’s comments. It has lost almost a quarter of its value so far this year.
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