Erdoğan says NATO enemy chart made by ‘vile’ people

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Turkish President and Chairman of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan delivers a speech during the AK Party's Rize 6th Ordinary Provincial Congress in Rize, Turkey on November 18, 2017. Binnur Ege Gurun / Anadolu Agency

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday said a NATO enemy chart incident was caused by vile people, adding that the issue cannot be avoided with a simple apology, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The image of Atatürk, founder of Turkey, was displayed by a technician as a target during a NATO military exercise in Norway held between Nov. 8 and Nov. 17. In a second incident an alliance officer posted defamatory comments about Erdoğan on an intra-NATO social media site. The technician and the military officer were later sacked, and Ankara withdrew 40 soldiers from the drill.

“The stronger Turkey gets, the more attacks we and our country face. You saw impudence during the NATO drill yesterday. Some mistakes are made not by stupid people but by vile ones. That’s the kind of incident this is,” Erdoğan said, speaking at a ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) provincial congress in Rize.

“The impudence against me and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of our republic, is the outpouring of a distorted perspective in NATO that we have been witnessing for a while,” Erdoğan added.

S 400 purchase is done

Recalling reactions from NATO countries to the Turkish decision to buy a Russian S-400 missile defense system, Erdoğan said: “The reactions by some alliance countries when we tried to buy an S-400 air defense system for our security confirms this distorted perspective. I am clearly telling to NATO and the others: We have bought the S-400s, it is done.”

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu also on Saturday reacted to the NATO drill scandal, saying the incident in Norway cannot be taken care of with just an apology. “Nobody can insult Turkey’s leaders and history,” he said.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday issued a statement saying, “I apologize for the offense caused.” He said the incident was the result of an “individual’s actions” and didn’t reflect the views of the alliance.

Norway’s Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen on Friday issued an apology to Turkey: “The message does not reflect Norway’s views or policies and I apologize for the content of the message.”

In the meantime, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry stated on Friday that Ankara would closely monitor legal proceedings against the perpetrators of the incident during a NATO drill in Norway.

An investigation has also been launched by Turkey’s Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office into the perpetrator or perpetrators of the drill scandal in in Norway.

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