NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg apologized to Turkey after Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founding leader of Turkey, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were reportedly depicted as “foes” during a military exercise in Norway.
The scandal prompted Turkey to withdraw 40 soldiers participating in the drill at NATO’s Joint Warfare Centre in Stavanger.
Following the incident, President Erdogan criticized the alliance. “There can be no such unity, no such alliance,” he said on Friday. He told party officials that Turkey pulled out its troops in protest.
What exactly happened during the drill remains unclear. The Turkish president said his name and Mr. Ataturk’s picture were placed on an “enemy chart.”
“I apologize for the offense caused,” NATO Secretary-General said. He noted that the incident didn’t reflect the views of the alliance, but was the result of an individual’s actions.
Associated Press reported that the individual who posted the material was a Norwegian civil contractor seconded by Norway, and not a NATO employee.
Mr. Stoltenberg said the individual was removed from the drill.
“It will be for the Norwegian authorities to decide on any disciplinary action. Turkey is a valued NATO ally, which makes important contributions to allied security,” he said.
Norway also apologized to Turkey. “The message does not reflect Norway’s views or policies and I apologize for the content of the message,” said Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen. “Turkey is an important ally in NATO, and we value our good cooperation.”