Published: Sun, November 19, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation chief apologises to Turkey over drill 'incident'

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation chief apologises to Turkey over drill 'incident'

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has apologised to Turkey after the country's leaders were allegedly depicted as "enemies" in a joint military exercise.

Following the incident, Erdogan announced that he had ordered 40 Turkish troops to be removed from the exercise, saying that he saw such an act as offensive.

According to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation website, Norway is now hosting a Trident Javelin 17 military exercise, as well as Polaris-17 and Gram-17 drills, aimed at improving Norway's military ability "to execute high-intensity national and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation operations within Norwegian territory." .

Stoltenberg, a former prime minister, emphasized the importance of Turkey within the alliance. "I apologize for the offense that has been caused".

"During a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation exercise at the Joint Warfare Center (JWC) in Stavanger, an exercise message was published on the internal exercise network", Xinhua news agency quoted the minister as saying in a written statement on Friday.

The NATO chief also said Turkey is an important ally for NATO and that he would take all necessary precautions to avoid a repeat of such an incident.

A portrait of Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was also shown in the "hostile leader list" during the computer-assisted exercise.

Turkey's main opposition party leader earlier on Saturday also said that the incident can not be just avoided with an apology. He was a civilian contractor seconded by Norway and not a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation employee.

"They told me that they are withdrawing our 40 soldiers from there [Norway]", Erdogan said.

Ankara prosecutors said in a statement they had opened a criminal investigation against an individual or individuals who had denigrated and insulted Ataturk and Erdogan in the incidents.

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