President Erdoğan chairs last MGK meeting of 2014 at new presidential palace

President Erdoğan chairs last MGK meeting of 2014 at new presidential palace

President Erdoğan chairs last MGK meeting of 2014 at new presidential palace A day after the Council of Ministers held its last meeting of 2014, the top national security body, which brings together the country’s top civilian and military leaders, held its last meeting of 2014 at the new presidential palace.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan chaired the Dec. 30 meeting of the National Security Council (MGK) at the presidential premises, which he prefers to call “Beştepe” in reference to the area where the controversial palace is located, yet is widely known as the “Ak Saray” (White Palace).

The MGK meeting came amid a heated debate sparked after Erdoğan announced on Dec. 29 that he will chair a Cabinet meeting on Jan. 19, a step forward in his plan to make the presidential role more powerful.

Turkish media reported rumors of friction between Erdoğan’s team and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s office after Davutoğlu rejected comments last week from an Erdoğan aide saying the president will convene the Cabinet on Jan. 5.

In a previous meeting held on Oct. 30, the MGK publicly documented the movement of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, referred to by government officials as the “parallel state,” as one of the leading threats against the country’s national security.

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, speaking at a press conference following a Cabinet meeting late on Dec. 29, was asked whether they decided to amend Turkey’s top-secret national security document, known as the “Red Book,” at the MGK’s Dec. 30 gathering.

“The authority to designate the agenda and date of the MGK belongs exclusively to Mr. President,” Arınç responded, while also noting that he didn’t expect an amendment of the documents said to be on the agenda as of Dec. 30.

The Red Book national security document lists Turkey’s perceived domestic and external threats, and is updated by the MGK when necessary. It was last updated in 2010.

“An organization that threatens our national security will of course take its place in it [the Red Book]. The fight against [this organization] has become one of priorities of the state,” said then-Prime Minister Erdoğan in July, shortly before becoming Turkey’s first ever directly-elected president in the August elections.