Nato apologises to Turkey after ‘Erdogan and Ataturk depicted as enemies’ in joint exercise

Forty Turkish soldiers withdrawn from Norway drills

Nato’s chief has apologised to Turkey after the country’s leaders were allegedly depicted as “enemies” in a joint military exercise.

Both current president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s and reforming ex-leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s names were involved in the reported incident in Norway.

Turkey has withdrawn 40 soldiers from the drills.

In an address to his ruling party’s provincial leaders on Friday, Mr Erdogan said his and Ataturk’s names were placed on a “table” listing “enemies” during the Nato exercise.

He said he had personally instructed the immediate withdrawal of the Turkish troops “even if those names are removed” from the table.

The Turkish leader said of the Nato alliance: “There can be no such pact, no such alliance.”

Nato’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said: “I have been informed about offence caused in a recently concluded exercise at Nato’s joint warfare centre in Stavanger, Norway.

“I apologise for the offence that has been caused. The incidents were the result of an individual’s actions and do not reflect the views of Nato.”

He added: “The individual in question was immediately removed from the exercise by the joint warfare centre, and an investigation is underway. He was a civilian contractor seconded by Norway and not a Nato employee.

“It will be for the Norwegian authorities to decide on any disciplinary action. Nato has been in contact with the Norwegian authorities on this issue.

“Turkey is a valued Nato ally, which makes important contributions to allied security.”

The joint warfare centre is a multinational Nato unit 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 orwegian 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 said that they feared being arrested and tortured in Turkey.

Ataturk was the founder of modern Turkey, having led the republic from 1923 after the Ottoman sultanate was abolished.

He presided over sweeping changes to society including secularisation and the introduction of Latin script to the language.

Source: The Independent

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