Retired Turkish sergeant returns his medal to NATO after drill scandal
Last week, Turkey withdrew 40 of its 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 the Republic of Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, was also shown in the “hostile leader list” during a computer-assisted exercise of the drill.
“I could not remain indifferent to disrespect shown to Atatürk and our President Erdoğan,” retired sergeant Veli Karaman told state-run Anadolu Agency.
“That’s why I sent back the NATO medal and certificate of merit. We should do whatever we have to do for our state’s unity and togetherness,” he added.
Karaman was sent to Afghanistan under the NATO umbrella in 2010. For his seven-month “successful” duty-period, he was given a medal signed by then NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
He later retired in 2014.
On Nov. 21, retired Turkish army major Zafer Oğuz also returned his NATO certificate and medal in protest at the drill controversy.