ANKARA ø Turkey has appointed the first civilian to direct its National Security Council.
Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has appointed a Foreign Ministry official
to head the NSC. Mehmet Alpogan became the first civilian named
secretary-general of the military-dominated panel which has been one of the strongest bodies in the government.
Alpogan's appointment became final on Aug. 17 when his selection was
confirmed by Turkish President Ahmet Sezer. The appointment was recorded in
the Official Gazette, and Alpogan was expected to enter the post by the end
Officials said the appointment of Alpogan, currently Ankara's ambassador
to Greece, marked a milestone in the government's campaign to gain control
and oversight of the military. The process has been deemed a major demand of
the European Union, which determined that the military maintained excessive
control over Turkish life. Alpogan replaces Gen. Sukru Sarisik, who
completed a one-year term, Middle East Newsline reported.
For his part, Alpogan expressed determination to contribute to Turkey's
effort to join the EU. The EU was scheduled to consider Turkey's application
in December 2004.
"We are undergoing a period in which important decisions concerning our
country will be taken toward EU membership," Alpogan said. "In this context,
we are determined to contribute to Turkey's EU bid."
The NSC has been reformed over the last year and was said to have lost
its exclusive role over such issues as weapons purchases, military policy
and the maintenance of a secular civil service and university system.
Officials expected Alpogan's appointment as secretary-general would hasten
the weakening of the council, chaired by Erdogan.
"As you know, the NSC has been undergoing changes over the last year
within the framework of a new law," Alpogan said. "So far, I have followed
these developments as observer. I will see what we should do after I enter