NATO chief says drill incident will not happen again
Güven Özalp - BRUSSELS
The NATO chief has reassured Turkey that the incident involving a civilian Norwegian official who depicted the Turkish leader as an "enemy collaborator" during an exercise in Norway would not happen again.
Speaking in a news conference in Brussels on Nov. 23, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg recalled that he had apologized over the phone to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
"I'm now also looking into the procedures to make sure that something like this not to happen again," he said.
Last week, Turkey withdrew its 40 soldiers from NATO's Trident Javelin exercise in Norway after a civilian Norwegian official depicted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as an "enemy collaborator".
A portrait of Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was also shown in the "hostile leader list" during a computer-assisted exercise of the drill.
"I also met with the minister for EU affairs [Ömer Çelik] and his chief of staff [Hulusi] Akar in Halifax this weekend and I expressed my apologies to them for the offenses caused. I also reassured them that our military authorities are now looking into how to make sure that something like this does not to happen in the future," he added.
The NATO chief also said Turkey was an important ally for NATO adding that: "Turkey is contributing to the alliance in many different ways, in the fight against terrorism bordering Iraq and Syria."
"So we highly value the contributions of Turkey to the alliance and therefore we have to make sure that instances like this do not occur again," Stoltenberg said.