PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (Photo: AA)
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said his government plans to pass a long-expected piece of legislation that would allow potential draftees to pay a certain fee in lieu of performing compulsory military service by next week at the latest.
Erdoğan's remarks came on Wednesday during a meeting of the Ministry of Family and Social Policy held for women whose husbands had died. “I would like to announce here, as there have been a lot of rumors about this issue, that we have concluded our work on the issue of paid military service. I believe that we will be completely done with our work within this week or next week at the latest and pass the legislation,” he said.
Compulsory military service has been a contentious issue in Turkey, which has been fighting terrorism for decades, and is mandatory for all healthy men in Turkey. The length of service depends on one's level of education as well as the military's needs at the time. Currently, university graduates with a four-year degree serve either for six months as a private or a year as a second lieutenant, depending on what is needed. Those who do not have a four-year bachelor's degree are obliged to fulfill 15 months of military service.
There are claims that the government is planning to charge each applicant $15,000 in lieu of performing compulsory military service, although the exact fee has yet to be officially announced. Turkey has introduced the option for exemption from military service for a fee three times in the past. Whereas there were 18,433 applicants the first time the government offered it in 1987, 35,111 and 72,290 people took advantage of government offers in 1992 and 1999, respectively.
After the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) came to power in 2002 the idea of offering another chance for military service exemption was shelved for six years. However, it was brought up again as a way to bring in extra revenue at the end of 2008 because of the difficulties created by the global financial crisis triggered by the US credit crunch.