Milli Guvenlik Kurulu

(MGK)
   Until recent European Union (EU) harmonization laws took effect in Turkey, the MGK, or National Security Council (NSC), often acted as the ultimate source of authority in that country. Over the years it has played a leading role in the suppression of Kurdish nationalism and, from the viewpoint of most Kurds, the prevention of many meaningful reforms that might have helped solve the Kurdish problem in Turkey.
   The modern Republic of Turkey, of course, was founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, whose power originally stemmed from his position in the military. Thus, from the beginning the military played a very important, and it should be noted very popular, role in the defense and, therefore, the politics of Turkey. Following the military coup of May 1960, the new constitution that went into effect in 1961 provided a role for the military for the first time by establishing the MGK. It consists of 10 members to advise the government on internal and external security. Chaired by the president (or in his absence the prime minister), the MGK also consists of the chief of the general staff, four military service chiefs, and the defense, foreign affairs, and interior ministers.
   Over the ensuing years, the MGK gradually extended its power over governmental policy, at times replacing the civilian government as the ultimate center of power over issues of national security. After the "coup by memorandum" in March 1971, for example, the MGK was given the power to give binding, unsolicited advice to the cabinet. Subsequent to the military coup of September 1980, for a while all power was concentrated in the MGK chaired by the chief of staff, General Kenan Evren, who eventually became president from 1982 to 1989. Although it greatly reduced the rampant terrorism in Turkey, a major price was paid in terms of human rights.
   During the 1990s, the MGK began to exercise virtually total authority over security matters dealing with the Kurdish problem. The "postmodern coup" in June 1997 toppled Turkey's first Islamist government and was sanctioned by an MGK edict issued a few months earlier. The MGK probably played an important role in Turkey's Deep State and Ergenekon organization.
   As noted above, the MGK's role in Turkish government has been lessened in recent years as one of the requirements of Turkey's ongoing EU accession process and the need to bolster civilian government. The MGK is now supposedly only a consultative body with a civilian secretary-general. Its expanded executive and monitoring authorities have been eliminated, and it has lost its power to follow up on its recommendations. Nevertheless, the MGK remains crucial in implementing Turkish national security objectives through informal channels.

Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. .

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