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A. ABOUT THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL AND THE SECRETARIAT-GENERAL OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL

Every state has to take all the necessary precautions against the potential threats to its existence, survival and security. Due to this necessity, states seek to determine the challenges and opportunities through monitoring regional and global environments and establish national security systems which embrace the processes and elements of formulation and implementation of national policies providing the most appropriate responses to these challenges and opportunities.

The first step taken by Turkey for a National Security Council system was the foundation of the Supreme Defense Assembly which was assigned with national mobilization issues by a decree in 1933. In the way towards today’s status, the said establishment has passed through various changes parallel to the evolving perceptions of security and lastly has been subject to constitutional and legal amendments within the framework of Turkey’s European Union membership process. Currently under the name of “National Security Council” (NSC), it is the supreme coordination board which meets once every two months on a constitutional platform. Council meetings provide an opportunity to exchange views and debate on the national security issues at the highest level.

The Secretariat-General of the NSC also has a long history of 80 years like the NSC. The current status of the organization, which has functioned under the successive names of “Secretariat-General of the Supreme Defense Assembly”, “Secretariat-General of the National Defense Supreme Council” and “Secretariat-General of the National Security Council”, is regulated in accordance with Law No.2945 issued pursuant to Article 118 of the Constitution which states that “The organization and duties of the Secretariat-General of the NSC shall be regulated by law”. The aforementioned Law, which has attained current form after having undergone amendments within the framework of European Union membership process, entrusts the Secretariat-General, established under the authority of the Prime Minister, to “provide secretariat services to the NSC” and “to perform the duties assigned by the NSC and by laws”.

The Secretariat-General, headed by the Secretary-General who is appointed upon the proposal by the Prime Minister and approval by the President, performs the duties imposed by law with the assistance of its professional staff with Bachelor’s degree or higher mostly in international relations, economics, law, etc.

 

B. HISTORY

It is possible to analyse the history of Turkey’s NSC and its Secretariat-General in four eras:

  • Era of the Supreme Defense Assembly (1933 - 1949)
  • Era of the National Defense Supreme Council (1949 - 1962)
  • Era of the National Security Council Under the 1961 Constitution (1962 - 1983)
  • Era of the National Security Council Under the 1982 Constitution
    • (1983 - 2003)
    • (2003 - .......)

 

Era of the Supreme Defense Assembly (1933 - 1949)

a. Structure

The Supreme Defense Assembly was established by Decree No.14443 of 24 April 1933. It was composed of the Prime Minister, who headed the Assembly, the Commander of the Turkish Armed Forces and members of the Council of Ministers. The President would chair the assembly when he so preferred.

b. Duties

The function of the Supreme Defense Assembly was to determine the tasks of the Ministries and to prepare the necessary guidelines concerning national mobilization. In order to carry out its function, the Supreme Defense Assembly would hold successive meetings at given times in a year. If necessary, it would also hold extraordinary meetings.

c. Secretariat-General of the Supreme Defense Assembly

The Secretary-General of the Supreme Defense Assembly was appointed by the Ministry of National Defense. In order to fulfill his duties, the Secretary-General had an established office with designated staff.

The Secretary-General and his office were assigned to prepare the matters concerning national mobilization in advance, ensure necessary coordination among relevant institutions and draw assessments, submit findings to the Supreme Defense Assembly and follow the decisions to be taken by the Assembly.

The Supreme Defense Assembly and its Secretariat-General carried out their duties, outlined in Decree No.14443 of 24 April 1933, in accordance with the Regulation annexed to Decree No.14819, issued shortly thereafter on 10 August 1933.

 

Era of the National Defense Supreme Council (1949 - 1962)

a. Structure

The National Defense Supreme Council was established by Decree No. 5399 of 3 June 1949. It was comprised of the Prime Minister, who headed the Council, Ministers nominated by the Prime Minister and selected by the Council of Ministers, as well as the Minister of National Defense and the Commander of the Turkish Armed Forces. The President was a natural member of the Council. With the decision of the Council of Ministers, dated 1 July 1949, numbered 3/9548, the ministerial membership of the Council was designated to include the Ministers of the Interior, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Civil Works, Economy, Trade, Transportation, Agriculture and Enterprises. At times of war, the General Commander of Warfare Forces was considered as the natural member of the Supreme Council. When deemed necessary, the Council would invite the members of the Military Council and any other experts for consultations.

b. Duties

The duties of the National Defense Supreme Council included the following:

1. To prepare the guidelines for the national defense policy to be pursued by the government;

2. To determine the duties and responsibilities for national defense which would be assumed by the whole government establishment, every private enterprise and entity as well as the citizens and submit them to the competent authorities for adoption of necessary legal and administrative measures; and monitor the implementation of these measures;

3. To prepare the Total National Mobilization Plan in times of peace and ensure its full implementation when necessary;

4. To express its observations on homeland-defense-related matters as required by the Prime Minister.

In order to fulfill these duties, the National Defense Supreme Council convened at least once a month. Decisions of the National Defense Supreme Council which could be directly implemented were notified to the relevant authorities by the Prime Minister, those which required a decision by the Council of Ministers were submitted to the said Council.

c. Secretariat-General of the National Defense Supreme Council

Assigned with preparing the work of the National Defense Supreme Council and providing paperwork services to the Council, the Secretariat-General of the National Defense Supreme Council was established in accordance with Article 6 of Law No. 5399.

The Secretary-General was appointed by the Council of Ministers on nomination by the Minister of National Defense acting in consultation with the Commander of the Turkish Armed Forces.

The Secretariat-General of the National Defense Supreme Council executed its work in accordance with the instruction under the Prime Ministry Directive No.14 issued on 10 April 1950.

 

Era of the National Security Council Under the 1961 Constitution (1961 - 1983)

a. Structure

The NSC was established by Law No. 129 of 11 December 1962, issued in accordance with Article 111 of the 1961 Constitution. Per the aforementioned Article and the provisions of the said Law, the NSC, under the chairmanship of the President, was composed of the Prime Minister, the Commander of the Turkish Armed Forces, State Minister(s) and Deputy Prime Minister(s), Ministers of National Defense, the Interior, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Transportation and Labor as well as the Armed Forces Commanders. In the absence of the President, the NSC would be headed by the Prime Minister. If necessary, upon the Prime Minister’s invitation, other Ministers and experts from institutions would attend the meetings, but could not take part in the vote. The Secretary-General of the NSC attended the meetings, but without right to vote.

b. Duties

In order to assist the Council of Ministers in the decision making process on national security and to provide coordination, the NSC would assume the following duties:

1. To prepare the guidelines for the national security policy as well as to amend and revise this policy;

2. With respect to the implementation of these guidelines, to prepare national plans and programs for each national security issue, determine intermediate and ultimate objectives towards their realization and harmonize activities in this area;

3. To determine the services and responsibilities to be assumed by the whole government establishment, every private enterprise and entity as well as the citizens with respect to total defense and national mobilization and take necessary legal and administrative measures on this matter;

4. To determine the guidelines on which the National Mobilization Plans (Civil Emergency Plans) would be based, harmonize, monitor and evaluate these plans.

5. To submit to the Council of Ministers fundamental views regarding national security.

In order to peform its functions, the NSC convened once a month. It could also meet at such other times as the Chairman deemed necessary. Decisions were taken by majority vote. In case of a tie, the side with the vote of the Chairman was considered to have formed the majority.

c. Secretariat-General of the National Security Council

Duties of the Secretariat-General of the NSC established under the Office of the Prime Minister by Law No.129 of 11 December 1962, included the following:

1. To conduct studies and researches regarding the aforementioned duties of the NSC and prepare proposals on these issues;

2. To monitor the implementation of all decisions, principles and plans and the relevant legislation proposed by the NSC and adopted by the Council of Ministers, and prepare periodic reports for the NSC towards this aim;

3. To make the necessary preparations for the NSC meetings.

The organizational structure, duties and working procedures of the Secretariat-General of the NSC were regulated through a Regulation prepared by the NSC and adopted by the Council of Ministers.

 

Era of the National Security Council Under the 1982 Constitution (1982 - 2003)

a. Structure

The NSC was established by Law No.2945 of 1 November 1983, issued in accordance with Article 118 of the 1982 Constitution. Per the aforementioned Article of the 1982 Constitution and the said Law, the NSC, under the chairmanship of the President, was composed of the Prime Minister, the Commander of the Turkish Armed Forces, Ministers of National Defense, the Interior, Foreign Affairs, Commanders of the Land, Naval and Air Forces and the General Commander of the Gendarmerie. Per specific agenda, relevant Ministers and individuals could also be invited to the meetings of the Council for consultations, but they could not take part in the vote. The Secretariat-General of the NSC attended the meetings, but did not have the right to vote.

b. Duties

According to Article 118 of the 1982 Constitution, the NSC submitted to the Council of Ministers its decisions on the identification, formulation and implementation of the national security policy of the state as well as its views on necessary coordination.

The duties assigned to the NSC by Law No.2945, governing the NSC and the Secretariat-General of the NSC, issued in accordance with the said Article of the Constitution, included the following:

1. To formulate views with regard to taking decisions on the identification, formulation and implementation of the national security policy and ensuring the necessary coordination;

2. To establish the measures for the realization of national objectives as well as plans and programs that are prepared according to the national security policy of the state;

3. To continuously monitor and evaluate the components of national power that would influence the national security policy of the state and the political, social, economic, cultural and technological situation and developments in the country; and determine the basic principles by which the aforementioned factors could be improved in accordance with national objectives;

4. To determine the measures that are deemed imperative for the preservation of the existence and independence of the state, territorial integrity and indivisibility of the country and the maintenance of peace and security of the society;

5. To determine the measures necessary for preserving the constitutional order, maintaining the national unity and integrity and bringing together the Turkish nation around the national ideals and values in accordance with the principles and reforms of Atatürk; counteract the internal and external threats directed against these aspects; in order to eliminate these threats, to determine strategies and guidelines as well as opinions, requirements and necessary precautions regarding the planning and implementation services;

6. To formulate opinions on the declaration of emergency, martial law, mobilization or war;

7. To determine the duties and responsibilities to be assumed by the public and private sector organizations and institutions as well as the citizens with respect to total defense, national mobilization and other related issues at times of peace, war, imminent threat of war and at post-war times and establish the guidelines for planning on these matters;

8. To determine the guidelines for ensuring the inclusion into the development plans, programs and annual budgets of the measures and funds related to the financial, economic, social, cultural and other aspects necessitated by the requirements of the national security policy and by the services for society and total defence services;

9. To formulate views on international agreements pertaining to national security which are already made or foreseen;

10. To submit these views, measures and guidelines to the Council of Ministers in the form of a “Council decision” and carry out other assignments mandated by laws.

In order to fulfill these duties, the NSC convened once a month. The Council could also hold extraordinary meetings when the President deemed necessary or approved the proposal by the Prime Minister or by the Commander of the Turkish Armed Forces for an additional meeting. The Council convened under the chairmanship of the President. In the absence of the President, the NSC would be headed by the Prime Minister. Decisions were taken by majority vote. In case of a tie, the side with the vote of the Chairman was assumed to have formed the majority. Decisions of the NSC were placed as a priority on the agenda of the Council of Ministers by the Prime Minister and the necessary decisions were taken by the said Council.

c. Secretariat-General of the National Security Council

The duties of the Secretariat-General of the NSC established under authority of the Prime Minister by Law No. 2945 included the following:

1. To conduct all relevant works, researches, analyses and evaluations within the framework of the duties of the NSC and submit the findings together with the proposals to the President, the Prime Minister and the NSC;

2. To conduct joint work with the Ministries and relevant institutions and organizations with respect to the preparation of the decisions of the NSC and the implementation of the Council of Ministers decisions governing those of the NSC; monitor and check the implementations and establish collaboration for regulatory, guiding and coordinating purposes;

3. To provide secretariat services to the NSC;

4. Within the framework of the responsibility of the Council of Ministers in ensuring national security, to conduct researches and analyses and prepare plans directly by itself or through joint work with ministries, relevant institutions and organizations regarding the identification, formulation, implementation, when necessary, the amendment and change of the national security policy excluding the defense policy of the government and to monitor, coordinate and guide the implementations in this respect and evaluate the findings;

5. Within the framework of the decisions of the NSC and the related Council of Ministers decisions, to plan and execute the services and activities stipulated by the relevant articles of Law No.2945 and monitor, check, guide and coordinate the implementations thereof by the relevant ministries, public and private institutions and organizations;

6. To coordinate the total defense services outside the mandate of the Armed Forces and track the legal arrangements concerned; formulate, revise and amend the plans and guidelines regarding these services; in line with these guidelines, to ensure and monitor the materialization and implementation of the plans to be prepared by the relevant ministries, institutions and organizations; provide -as well as ensure the provision of- services in this matter as required by the international treaties and agreements; determine legal and administrative measures regarding the duties and responsibilities to be assumed by the public and private organizations with respect to total defense civil services at times of peace, war, imminent threat of war and at post-war times and take appropriate actions for their implementation;

7. To determine the measures, tasks and procedures to be taken up in case of widespread violence and deterioration in public order which result in a declaration of emergency, identify actions to ensure cooperation in implementation and submit its proposals to the Prime Minister on this matter;

8. To cooperate and coordinate with the Undersecretariat for the State Planning Organization for the inclusion in the development plans and programs of the financial, economic, social and other requirements necessisated by measures and services under the national security policy and by the services for society and total defense civil services, and to cooperate and coordinate with the said Organization also for the allocation of necessary funds in the annual budgets.

9. To fulfill other duties assigned by the President, Prime Minister and the NSC and by laws;

Other issues related to the organizational structures, duties and powers of the units within the Secretariat-General were regulated by the Regulation Governing the Secretariat-General of the NSC, adopted upon the Council of Ministers Decision No. 84/7706 of 10 February 1984.

 

Era of the National Security Council Under the 1982 Constitution (2003 - .......)

Within the context of Turkey’s European Union membership process, through the harmonization packages involving constitutional and legal reforms, some changes were introduced regarding the NSC, which was established by Law No. 2945 of 1 November 1983, issued in accordance with Article 118 of the 1982 Constitution. Accordingly, new arrangements were made with respect to the structure, duties and working procedures of the NSC through the amendments in Article 118 of the Constitution on 3 October 2001 and in Law No.2945 on 15 January 2003.

The aforementioned changes includes the following:

The number of the Council’s members was increased to 14 with the addition of Deputy Prime Ministers and the Minister of Justice to the NSC;

The duties of the NSC were redefined and limited;

The decisions of the NSC, which were stipulated to be taken into consideration as a priority by the Council of Ministers in accordance with the previous Law, gained advisory status and should be adopted if deemed appropriate by the Council of Ministers after evaluation.

The Council should convene not once a month any more, but every two months.

The Commander of the Turkish Armed Forces’s power to propose an extraordinary meeting was repealed.

After these amendments, Article 118 of the Constitution now reads as follows: “The NSC shall submit to the Council of Ministers the advisory decisions on the identification, formulation and implementation of the national security policy of the State and its opinions on necessary coordination. The decisions of the Council concerning the measures that are deemed imperative for the preservation of the existence and independence of the State, the integrity and indivisibility of the country and the peace and security of the society shall be deliberated by the Council of Ministers”.

Following the amendments, Law No. 2945 now describes the duties of the NSC as follows: “The NSC, within the framework of the definitions on national security and the national security policy of the State as stated in Article 2, shall make advisory decisions on issues concerning the identification, formulation, and implementation of the national security policy of the State, and formulate opinion on ensuring the necessary coordination; it shall submit these advisory decisions and opinions to the Council of Ministers and perform duties imposed by laws.”

Within the current system, the meetings of the Council are held under the chairmanship of the President; decisions are taken by majority vote and in case of a tie, the side including the vote of the Chairman is assumed to have formed the majority; the Council may also convene upon the proposal by the Prime Minister or directly upon a call by the President; the agenda of the NSC is drawn up by the President after consideration of the proposals by the Prime Minister and the Commander of the Turkish Armed Forces; the agenda items requested by the NSC Ministers as well as by other Ministers are submitted to the President by the Secretariat-General of the NSC in consultation with the Prime Minister; depending on the agenda, Ministers and individuals concerned can also be invited to the Council meetings for information and consultations; the Secretary-General of the NSC attends the meetings, but does not have the right to vote; the decisions of the NSC are placed as a priority on the agenda of the Council of Ministers by the Prime Minister and necessary decisions are then taken; within the context of legal amendments, should the advisory decisions and opinions of the NSC, submitted to the Council of Ministers for deliberations, are adopted by the Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister may assign a Deputy Prime Minister with the task of coordinating and monitoring the implementation of these advisory decisions.

Within the context of Turkey’s European Union accession process, some important legal amendments were also made concerning the Secretariat-General of the NSC. With the new arrangenments introduced by Law No.4963, which came into force after being issued in the Official Gazette dated August 7, 2003, the appointment of a civilian Secretary-General has become possible. Previously, Secretaries General were used to be chosen from among full generals and vice admirals who were appointed through a three-stage process involving recommendation of the Commander of the Turkish Armed Forces, nomination by the Prime Minister and approval by the President. Currently, Secretary-General is appointed upon the nomination by the Prime Minister and approval by the President. If the appointment is to be made from among the Armed Forces members, the prior consent of the Commander of the Turkish Armed Forces shall be obtained.

Through the legal amendments, also the duties of the Secretariat-General of the NSC have changed considerably and are now described as “To provide secretariat services to the NSC” and “To carry out duties assigned by the NSC and by laws”.

Within the framework of the amendments, the organizational structure, duties and powers of the Secretariat-General and matters related to its staff and internal functioning are regulated by the Regulation Governing the Secretariat-General of the NSC, which came into force after being issued in the Official Gazette dated January 08, 2004.