National Security Council (Turkey)

The National Security Council (Turkish: Milli Güvenlik Kurulu, MGK) comprises the Chief of Staff, select members of the Council of Ministers, and the President of the Republic (who is also the Commander-in-chief). Like the national security councils of other countries, the MGK develops the national security policy.

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The policy is expressed in the National Security Policy Document (Turkish: Milli Güvenlik Siyaseti Belgesi), commonly known as "The Red Book".[1][2] The Red Book is sometimes called the "most secret" document in Turkey. It is updated once or twice a decade.[3]


The creation of the MGK was an outcome of the military coup in 1960, and has been a part of the constitution since 1961. In this way the 1961 constitution created what the Turkish scholar Sakallioğlu labels "a double headed political system: the civilian council of ministers coexisted with the national security council on the executive level, and the military system of justice continued to operate independently alongside the civilian justice system."[4]

The role of the MGK was further strengthened with the 1982 constitution, adopted by the military junta in the aftermath of the 1980 military coup, before transferring power to civilian politicians. From then on its recommendations would be given priority consideration by the council of ministers. Furthermore, the number and weight of senior military commanders in MGK increased at the expense of its civilian members.[4] In 1992 then chief of general staff Gen. Doğan Güreş proclaimed self-confidently that "Turkey is a military state".[5]

The role of the military in Turkish politics

The MGK is widely perceived as the institutionalisation of the Turkish military's influence over politics. Since Mustafa Kemal Atatürk founded the modern secular republic of Turkey in 1923, the Turkish military has perceived itself as guardian of Kemalism, the official state ideology, even though Atatürk himself insisted separating the military from politics.[6]

Though the attitude of the military may have remained constant, the attitude of the successive civilian governments toward the military has fluctuated, according to Metin Heper: "In Turkey, for a long time, there have been two notable behavioral patterns on the part of civilian governments in their relations with the military: they have either tried to relegate the military to the sidelines or they have granted it too much autonomy." When the civilian government was successful in solving economic problems and internal disputes and "had the upper hand," sometimes as in the 1950s, the civilian government "tried to divest the military of all authority" and the government and military officers became "hostile adversaries."[7]

As a result of these fluctuations in the relationship, there have been two direct coups d’états in 1960 and 1980, the 1971 coup by memorandum, and what later has been labelled a "post modern coup", when Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan from the pro-Islamic Welfare Party stepped down after mounting pressure from the military in 1997.[8] Paradoxically, the military has both been an important force in Turkey's continuous Westernization but at the same time also represents an obstacle for Turkey's desire to join the EU. At the same time, the military enjoys a high degree of popular legitimacy, with continuous opinion polls suggesting that the military is the state institution that the Turkish people trust the most.[9]

Recent reforms

In order to meet EU's political demands for starting membership negotiations, the Copenhagen criteria, Turkey has passed a number of reforms aiming at strengthening civilian control over the military. These reforms have mainly focused on the MGK, its duties, functioning and composition. On 23 July 2003 the Turkish Grand National Assembly passed the "seventh reform package", which aimed at limiting the role of the military, through reforms of the MGK. According to an editorial in the Financial Times the seventh reform package constitutes nothing less than a "quiet revolution".[10]

Firstly it is underlined that the MGK is a consultative body, now with a civilian majority. The 7th reform package made it possible to appoint a civilian Secretary General of the MGK, which happened for the first time in August 2004. The council has not anymore expanded executive and monitoring authorities, and has for instance not any more the authority on behalf of the president and the prime minister to follow up on the implementation of the MGK's ‘recommendations’. In addition, the MGK no longer has unlimited access to all civil institutions. The MGK no longer has a representative in the Supervision Board of Cinema, Video and Music. It was however still represented in civil institutions such as the High Board for Radio and TV (RTÜK) and the Commission for Higher Education (YÖK), but after critics in the 2003 European Commission report this representation was withdrawn from both institutions in 2004.[11]

Despite the impressive institutional changes, the 2004 European Commission report concludes that "Although the process of aligning civil-military relations with EU practice is underway, the Armed Forces in Turkey continue to exercise influence through a series of informal channels."[12] In the Commission report of the following year it was stated that: "Reforms concerning civil-military relations have continued, but the armed forces still exert significant influence by issuing public statements on political developments and government policies."[13]

Before the reforms, the MGK covertly influenced public opinion through its Public Relations Command (Turkish: Toplumla İlişkiler Başkanlığı). The department has been disbanded.[1]

Appointed by Law

The NSC and the Secretariat General of the NSC that appointed members are the following:

List of Secretaries General

Name Rank From To
Mehmet Tevfik Erdönmez Major General 9 April 1938 28 August 1939
Galip Türker Lieutenant General 28 August 1939 13 June 1940
M.Rasim Aktağun Lieutenant General 13 June 1940 21 April 1941
Hüseyin Avni Üler Major General 1 April 1942 9 August 1942
Mümtaz Aktay Lieutenant General 18 March 1943 1 May 1945
M.Rıfat Mataracı Lieutenant General 3 May 1945 14 July 1945
Muzaffer Ergüder Lieutenant General 28 February 1946 10 April 1946
Fuat Erdem Lieutenant General 10 April 1946 14 July 1948
Kurtcebe Noyan Lieutenant General 27 September 1948 1 July 1949
Yümnü Üresin Lieutenant General 11 July 1949 28 April 1950
Kurtcebe Noyan Lieutenant General 25 May 1950 6 June 1950
Mahmut Berköz General 13 June 1950 6 September 1951
İzzet Aksalur General 4 October 1951 5 November 1952
Nazmi Ataç Lieutenant General 5 November 1952 29 September 1955
Mehmet Enver Aka Major General 24 January 1956 29 August 1956
Selahattin Selışık General 4 September 1956 31 August 1959
Vedat Garan General 10 September 1959 4 August 1960
Celal Erikan Major General 16 September 1960 28 November 1960
Mahmut Demircioğlu Colonel 29 November 1960 12 February 1961
Tarık Demiroğlu Colonel 13 February 1961 24 September 1961
Nüzhet Akıncılar Major General 25 September 1961 18 October 1961
M. Şevket Ozan Brigadier General 23 November 1961 14 August 1962
Refet Ülgenalp Lieutenant General 14 August 1962 11 July 1966
Kemalaetin Gökakın General 18 July 1966 30 August 1969
Haydar Olcaynoyan General 30 August 1969 30 August 1970
Emin Alpkaya General (Air Force) 28 August 1970 28 August 1972
Nahit Özgür General (Air Force) 28 August 1972 30 August 1975
Namık Kemal Ersun General 24 August 1975 1 January 1976
Nurettin Ersin General 5 January 1976 30 August 1977
Tahsin Şahinkaya General (Air Force) 5 September 1977 24 August 1978
Arif Akdoğanlar Admiral (Navy) 25 August 1978 8 August 1980
Halil Sözer General (Air Force) 18 August 1980 8 October 1980
Talat Çetineli Lieutenant General 8 October 1980 30 August 1981
Halit Nusret Toroslu General (Air Force) 24 August 1981 30 August 1985
Orhan Karabulut Admiral (Navy) 19 August 1985 20 August 1986
Hüsnü Çelenkler General 21 August 1986 30 August 1987
İrfan Tınaz Admiral (Navy) 26 August 1987 22 August 1988
Sabri Yirmibeşoğlu General 22 August 1988 30 August 1990
Nezihi Çakar General 21 August 1990 30 August 1992
Ahmet Çörekçi General (Air Force) 21 August 1992 9 August 1993
Doğan Bayazıt General 22 August 1993 17 August 1995
İlhan Kılıç General (Air Force) 17 August 1995 27 August 1997
Ergin Celasin General (Air Force) 27 August 1997 24 August 1999
Cumhur Asparuk General (Air Force) 27 August 1999 26 August 2001
Tuncer Kılınç General 26 August 2001 26 August 2003
Şükrü Sarıışık General 26 August 2003 16 August 2004
Mehmet Yiğit Alpogan Ambassador 1 October 2004 16 July 2007
Tahsin Burcuoğlu Ambassador 1 November 2007 25 January 2010
Serdar Kılıç Ambassador 5 February 2010 17 April 2012
Muammer Türker Governor 25 April 2012 Incumbent


  1. Mercan, Faruk (2006-08-14). "Kırmızı Kitap'ı uyguladık". Aksiyon (in Turkish). Feza Gazetecilik A.Ş. 610. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
  2. "Devletin milli güvenlik siyasetini içeren belgenin adı "Milli Siyaset Belgesi" veya "Milli Güvenlik Siyaset Belgesi" gibi değişik biçimlerde ifade edilmektedir. Belgenin resmi adı nedir?". Frequently Asked Questions (in Turkish). Milli Güvenlik Kurulu Genel Sekreterligi. 2007-10-05. Archived from the original on 2008-09-08. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
  3. Ergin, Sedat (2004-11-24). "Milli Güvenlik Siyaset Belgesi değiştiriliyor". Hürriyet (in Turkish). Retrieved 2009-01-06.
  4. Sakallioglu, Cizre. The Anatomy of the Turkish Military's Autonomy, Comparative Politics, vol. 29, no. 2, 1997, pp. 157-158.
  5. Özcan, Gencer, "The Military and the Making of Foreign Policy in Turkey", In: Kirişci, Kemal (red.) & Rubin, Barry (red.): Turkey in World Politics. An Emerging Multiregional Power, Lynne Rienner Publishers, London, 2001. pp. 16-20.
  6. Momayezi, Nasser. "Civil-military relations in Turkey", International Journal on World Peace. New York: Sep 1998. Vol. 15, Iss. 3., p. 3.
  7. Heper, Metin. "The Justice and Development Party government and the military in Turkey," Turkish Studies. Oxfordshire, United Kingdom: Summer 2005. Vol. 6, Iss. 2, p. 215. doi:10.1080/14683840500119544
  8. Momayezi, Nasser: "Civil-military relations in Turkey", International Journal on World Peace. New York: Sep 1998. Vol. 15, Iss. 3., pp. 19-22.
  9. Ersel Aydinli; Nihat Ali Özcan & Dogan Akyaz (January–February 2006). "The Turkish Military's March Toward Europe". Foreign Affairs. Archived from the original on 2009-01-06. Retrieved 2008-12-16.
  10. "A quiet revolution: Less power for Turkey's army is a triumph for the EU", Financial Times (editorial), July 31, 2003.
  11. European Commission: 2003 Regular Report on Turkey’s progress towards accession, November 5, 2003; European Commission: 2004 Regular Report on Turkey’s progress towards accession, October 6, 2004 Archived April 10, 2016, at the Wayback Machine and European Commission: Turkey 2005 Progress Report, Brussels, 9 November 2005.
  12. European Commission: 2004 Regular Report on Turkey’s progress towards accession Archived April 10, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, October 6, 2004. P. 15.
  13. European Commission: Turkey 2005 Progress Report Archived June 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Brussels, 9 November 2005, p. 41.
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