North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has taken "disciplinary action" against an individual over an incident in which Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the country's modern founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk were portrayed as enemies, the alliance's secretary general has said.
Nato's website describes the Trident Javelin exercise in Stavanger, southern Norway, as a "computer assisted exercise without troops on the ground", meant to improve command structures for large operations. Erdogan ordered the withdrawal after he said that his name and that of Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, were listed as enemies.
The head of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg apologized to Turkey.
Stoltenberg, a former prime minister, emphasized the importance of Turkey within the alliance. "I apologise for the offense that has been caused". "The incidents were the result of an individual's actions and do not reflect the views of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation". "Turkey is a valued North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, which makes important contributions to allied security", he said.
Stoltenberg was at pains to stress that the individual responsible for the incident was not one of Nato's staff. "He was a civilian contractor seconded by Norway and not a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation employee", he said.
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Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen apologized for the incident. After that, a fake social media account was opened under Erdogan' s name, through which statements of support for the "enemy nation leader" were posted.
Erdogan said Turkey's top general Hulusi Akar and EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik - who were on their way to a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation conference in Halifax, Canada - had informed him of the incident. Initially, a technician used a picture of Ataturk he found online to represent enemy ranks.
"They told me that they are withdrawing our 40 soldiers from there [Norway]", Erdogan said.
The civilian Norwegian official was removed from the exercise by JWC following the incident and a thorough investigation was underway, the statement said.