Turkish president says some mistakes are only committed by ‘vile' people, referring to incident at NATO drill
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday criticized the incident that led to the withdrawal of Turkish troops from a NATO drill in Norway.
Turkey withdrew from the Trident Javelin exercise after a civilian Norwegian official depicted Erdogan as an "enemy collaborator" during a bloc exercise.
A portrait of Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was also shown in a “hostile leader list” during a computer-assisted exercise.
Speaking at an event in northeastern Rize on Saturday, the president said as Turkey increases its power, the intensity of attacks against it was also increasing.
"Yesterday, you have witnessed the impudence at NATO exercise in Norway. There are some mistakes that cannot be committed by fools but only by vile people,” he said.
"I understand this impudence that targets me and founder of our republic, Gazi Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, as a reflection of a distorted point of view that we observe in NATO for a while."
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen have apologized to Turkey over the incident.
Erdogan said NATO's trustworthiness had been questioned by all member states when it withdrew missile defense systems from Turkey at a time where threats from Syria were at its peak.
"When we tried to buy S-400 air defense systems from Russia, the reaction from some countries of the alliance [NATO] proved this distortedness," he added.
The president also said Turkey would complete its Idlib operation in Syria.
"We will also save Afrin, we will deliver Manbij to its original owners. We will also clear other areas from terrorist organizations," he said.
Turkish military is reportedly planning to set up 12 observation and security points in Idlib as part of the Astana peace process, while preparing to extend the operation to Afrin and Manbij.
Turkish troops will be deployed to strategic points in Idlib, near its border with Afrin and Manbij, to monitor the region and to prevent clashes between Syrian opposition fighters and Assad regime forces as well as outline a plan for an upcoming operation in the other two areas. The Turkish military has already established six observation posts across Idlib.
Erdogan said Turkey would also clear Iraq's Qandil from terrorists.