Erdoğan condemns ‘impudence’ during NATO drill
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Nov. 17 blasted as “impudence” the incident that led to the withdrawal of Turkish troops from a NATO drill in Norway.
Turkey withdrew from the Trident Javelin exercise after a civilian Norwegian official depicted Erdogan as an “enemy collaborator” during a bloc exercise. A portrait of the Republic of Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, was also shown on a “hostile leader list” during a computer-assisted exercise.
Speaking at a ruling Justice and Development (AKP) event in the Black Sea province of Rize on Nov. 17, Erdoğan claimed that “attacks on Turkey increase as Turkey increases its power.”
“Yesterday, you saw impudence at a NATO exercise in Norway. Some mistakes are not committed by fools, but by vile people,” he said.
“This impudence that targets me and the founder of our republic ... reflects the distorted point of view that we have been observing in NATO for a while,” he added.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen both issued swift apologies to Turkey over the incident.
However, Erdoğan said NATO’s “trustworthiness” had been questioned by all member states when it withdrew missile defense systems from Turkey at a time where threats from Syria were rising.
“And now, when we try to buy S-400 air defense systems from Russia, the reaction from some countries of the alliance [NATO] proved this distortedness,” he added.
Touching on the situation over the border in Syria, Erdoğan said Turkey would soon stage operations in Afrin and Manbij after completing its ongoing operation in Idlib.
“We will also save Afrin and we will deliver Manbij to its original owners. We will clear terrorist organizations out of all areas,” he said.
The Turkish military is currently monitoring 12 observation and security points in Idlib as part of the Astana Process with Iran and Russia, amid rumors that Turkey will extend the operation to Afrin and Manbij.
Turkish troops in Idlib are aiming to prevent clashes between Syrian opposition fighters and Assad regime forces.
Meanwhile, President Erdoğan also again vowed that Turkey would also clear northern Iraq’s Qandil Mountain region, the headquarters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) of all “terrorists.”