MHP leader calls for review of NATO membership

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Turkey's Nationalist Movement Party's leader (MHP) Devlet Bahceli (Murat Kaynak / Anadolu Agency)

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli on Saturday strongly reacted to a recent NATO enemy chart scandal during a drill in Norway, saying it is time to review Turkey’s membership in the alliance.

The image of Atatürk, the 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 President Recep Tayyip 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.

“It is an urgent necessity for Turkey to question NATO without losing time, discuss in detail its desires and targets. It is a fact that we are close to the line where we will have to say all-or-nothing,” said Bahçeli in his statement on Twitter.

“We were here when there was no NATO. It will not be the end of the world if it’s necessary that we leave the organization,” he added.

Describing the enemy chart scandal as a “disgrace,” Bahçeli underlined that it cannot be fixed or compensated for.

Turkish President Erdoğan on Saturday said the NATO enemy chart incident was caused by vile people, adding that the issue cannot be resolved with a simple apology.

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

Norway’s Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen on Friday issued an apology to Turkey.

Earlier on Friday NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg 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.

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