Turkey calls on NATO to ‘not cover up’ scandal
NATO should conduct a broad investigation, including into higher officials, over the targeting of Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, government spokesperson Bekir Bozdağ said on Nov. 20.
“We welcome the apologies issued. We welcome the removal of those responsible from office and the launching of an investigation. But we don’t see these incidents as solely extending to individuals. It’s not possible to explain these incidents merely in terms of individual responsibility,” Bozdağ told reporters after a weekly cabinet meeting.
He said Turkey would remain loyal to the NATO alliance, “even though the Turkish people, along with Erdoğan and Atatürk, were targeted in these incidents.”
“It’s not just negligence,” Bozdağ said, adding that “all aspects of the incident should be revealed and those responsible should be determined if there are higher generals among them.”
“The case should not be covered up and NATO should not allow anti-Turkey circles to affect the alliance,” he noted.
Turkey’s EU Minister Ömer Çelik, meanwhile, on Nov. 19 called for an investigation of the chain of command involved in the NATO drill in Norway, during which the names of Erdoğan and Atatürk appeared on an “enemy list.”
Speaking at the 9th annual Halifax International Security Forum in Canada, Çelik said the commander above the Norwegian civilian identified as being responsible must also be investigated.
“Is there no chain of command? Does he [the civilian contracted person] not have a commander?” he added.
Çelik said NATO, as an alliance that aims to ensure the security of all its member states, should do more to ensure the security of its drills.
“Turkey will continue to monitor the investigation into the incident and would like to ensure that such incidents do not happen ever again,” he said, suggesting that the incident was similar to methods used by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), accused of orchestrating Turkey’s July 2016 coup attempt.
“[FETÖ] is using all its assets to harm Turkey and to try to create some negative developments in Turkey. This incident is very similar to the methods they use,” Çelik added.
Turkey withdrew from the Trident Javelin exercise in Norway on Nov. 17 after a civilian Norwegian official depicted Atatürk and President Erdoğan as “enemy collaborators.”
The Norwegian national was removed from the exercise following the incident, with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen issuing swift apologies to Turkey.