Retired Turkish army major returns his medal to NATO

Zafer Oguz says he decided to send it back after last week's drill incident in Norway

Retired Turkish army major returns his medal to NATO

World Bulletin / News Desk

A retired Turkish army major has returned his NATO certificate and medal in the wake of the recent drill incident in Norway which prompted a strong reaction from Turkey.

Turkey withdrew its troops from NATO's Trident Javelin exercise in Norway on Friday after a civilian Norwegian official depicted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as an "enemy collaborator".

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

"Until the incident, I exhibited the medal in the best place in my house, inside a frame. Later [after the incident] I decided that this certificate and medal did not belong to my house anymore, but to NATO. So I sent them to Turkish Land Forces Command to be delivered back to NATO," Zafer Oguz told Anadolu Agency.

He said that some of his friends, who were also awarded with NATO medals, asked him about the process to return them.

Zafer Oguz was working as a military engineer officer with the 5th Corps in the northwestern province of Tekirdag when he was sent to Afghanistan to work under the NATO umbrella in 2010.

Three months after his arrival, he was awarded with a certificate and a medal, signed by Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the then NATO Secretary-General. He retired in 2011 upon returning to Turkey.

The Norwegian national who triggered the crisis was removed from the exercise following the incident. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen both apologized to Turkey.

In a statement published on the Ministry's website on Friday, Frank Bakke-Jensen said: "During a NATO exercise at the Joint Warfare Center in Stavanger an exercise message was published on the internal exercise network.

"The message does not reflect Norway's views or policies and I apologize for the content of the message."

The minister called Turkey "an important ally in NATO", adding "we value our good cooperation".

"The Norwegian national was removed from the exercise by JWC as a consequence of the incident. We will conduct a thorough investigation of the incident, and take the appropriate measures based on the conclusions," he said.

During the computer-assisted exercise, a Norwegian official created a dummy military chat account under the president’s name, and posted a fake chat showing Erdogan as collaborating with an enemy, a NATO official, who asked not to be named due to the nature of the incident, told Anadolu Agency.

Stoltenberg said "the incidents were the result of an individual’s actions and do not reflect the views of NATO".

Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Kasım 2017, 00:12