NATO reiterates apology to Turkey over reports Atatürk, Erdoğan shown as foe
ANKARA - The Associated Press
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg apologized to Turkey on Nov. 17 over military exercises in Norway during which Turkey’s founding leader, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and the current president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, were reportedly depicted as "enemies."
"There can be no such unity, no such alliance," he said in an address to his ruling party’s provincial leaders.
Details of the incident were sketchy. Erdoğan said Atatürk’s picture and his own name were featured on an "enemy chart" during the drills.
Stoltenberg issued a statement saying: "I apologize for the offense caused." He said the incident was the result of an "individual’s actions" and didn’t reflect the views of the alliance.
He added that the individual was removed from the exercise and an investigation was underway.
Stoltenberg apologized again at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada. He said he’s already spoken with the Turkish defense chief and that it "won’t create any lasting problems, and I think it’s already behind us."
"The message does not reflect Norway’s views or policies and I apologize for the content of the message," Bakke-Jensen said in a statement. He added that "Turkey is an important ally in NATO, and we value our good cooperation."
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.
In March, the Norwegian government caused fury in Turkey by granting political asylum to five Turkish officers based in Norway who had refused to return home after the failed July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. The five officers had said that they feared being arrested and tortured in Turkey.