Norwegian Foreign Minister Marie Eriksen Soreide, who met with her Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu at the NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels, told Daily Sabah that the incident - in which Turkey's founding leader, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and current president Erdoğan were reportedly depicted as "enemies" during a military exercises in Norway - has been dealt with.
"We touched briefly on what happened at the exercise and the fact that NATO has given a very swift response, so did Norway. I consider the issue is now dealt with," she said. When asked if there are any updates regarding the investigation into the incident, Soreide said, "Not aside from what NATO is doing now, and I think there will be an update next week."
Commenting on her meeting with Çavuşoğlu, Soreide said: "It was a good first meeting with my new colleague. We have not met in this capacity before, and I think it was a good occasion to discuss many bilateral issues. We also discussed migration and the job that Turkey is doing to mediate the situation in the region."
Çavuşoğlu also confirmed to Daily Sabah that the investigation is expected to be finalized within a week or two, after his meeting with Soreide. He also expressed his gratitude for Stoltenberg and Norwegian officials' position on the incident.
Stoltenberg recalls his apology in meeting with Çavuşoğlu
Prior to his meeting with the top Norwegian diplomat at NATO headquarters, Çavuşoğlu met with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. In this first official meeting since the controversial exercise incident, the NATO chief recalled that he had spoken to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as well as with Minister Çavuşoğlu, to apologize for the offence caused.
"In a statement made to the press, NATO also said that Stoltenberg made clear that NATO military authorities are now investigating what happened and how to ensure that it will not happen again."
Turkey withdrew its troops from the Trident Javelin military drill in Norway after the scandalous incident. Shortly after President Erdoğan spoke about the incident, the NATO chief called Erdoğan to apologize. Stoltenberg informed Erdoğan that the individual behind the incident was immediately removed from his post. The NATO chief also underlined that Turkey is an important NATO member and the alliance took necessary precautions to prevent such an incident from happening again.
Stoltenberg also told Erdoğan he hopes the scandal will not have a negative impact on relations between Turkey and NATO. Stoltenberg apologized to Turkey in a written statement too, as well as to Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar during a face-to-face meeting in Canada. Yet, despite the apology from Stoltenberg, NATO hesitated to release an official statement of apology and overlooked the incident on its website.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry also released a statement regarding the issue: "The incident is regrettable, unethical and unacceptable. The criminal procedures against the perpetrators will be followed closely. Necessary steps are being taken."