Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg issued a statement saying “I apologise for the offence caused”
NATO’s secretary-general apologized to Turkey over military exercises in Norway during which Turkey’s founding leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly depicted as enemies.
President Tayyip Erdogan said in a televised speech on Friday that he had ordered 40 troops to be withdrawn from the exercise after his name and that of the country’s founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk name were placed on a “table” listing “enemies” at the NATO drill.
Turkey’s leader said the incident, which took place on Thursday is an insult and so he had instructed the troops, who were to take part in the NATO exercise, to pull out.
The individual who posted the material was described as a Norwegian civil contractor seconded by Norway, and not a NATO employee.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg issued a statement saying: “I apologize for the offence caused.” He said the incident was the result of an “individual’s actions” and didn’t reflect the views of the alliance.
NTV private broadcaster reported on Friday that NATO had fired the military officer who used pictures of Erdogan and Ataturk to show “enemies.”
Turkey has the second-largest army in the alliance and carries significant geopolitical weight since it shares borders with Syria, Iraq, and Iran. But relations have become strained as Erdogan drifts away from the alliance and the European Union.
The Joint Warfare Centre is a multi-national NATO unit based in Stavanger, 300 kilometers (186 miles) southwest of Oslo. It is currently led by Maj. Gen. Andrzej Reudowicz of Poland. According to its website, it has a staff of 250 made up of civilians from 11 NATO member states, including Turkey.