Few opt for paid military waiver in Turkey
Turkish soldiers are seen marching at a ceremony. Turkey was expecting some 13 billion Turkish Liras in revenues from a military service exemption campaign.The 13 billion liras of revenue expected from the recently-implemented paid military exemption law has not been achieved, with only 22,500 out of an estimated 460,000 possible candidates having applied in the first four months.
In the first three months of the process, which was introduced on Dec. 15, 2011, the average monthly number of applicants was 5,860, while the figure dropped to 5,624 by the end of the fourth month, according to news portal Gazeteport.com. The total number of applicants was 22,500, or less than 5 percent of the target group, by the end of the fourth month. If this trend continues, the total figure will be between 35,000 to 40,000 by June 15, when the period expires. The maximum estimated revenue will total only 1.2 billion liras as things stand.
Military service is compulsory for male citizens of Turkey who are 18 years of age or older. Paid military exemptions are introduced every now and then to decrease numbers of “absent without leaves,” deserters, and others who somehow evade military service.
However, the number of applicants may surge as the deadline nears. Two reasons for the low interest are perhaps the high fee 30,000 lira fee, and the fact that this can only be paid in two installments with a maximum six month delay. Those applying pay the first installment of 15,000 liras in June and then the second installment in December 2012.
The law only covers those who are 30 years of age or older as of December 31, 2011. Applicants who pay the fee will not be recruited and their military service will be considered completed.
Paid military exemption schemes have been practiced on three separate occasions since 1980. The take-up rate was low in all cases.
The last time a similar law was enacted was in the aftermath of the devastating 1999 earthquake in the western province of Kocaeli, which resulted in tens of thousands of deaths. Only 21 percent, or 72,000 out of the 334,000 who were obliged to do military service, applied to take advantage of the law at the time.
Some 18,000 or 9 percent out of 198,000 eligible Turkish males applied to take advantage of the law enacted in 1987. 35,000 applicants out of 243,000 applied in 1992.
The Turkish law also provides an option for Turkish citizens who have worked abroad at least for three years to complete their military service in 21 days of basic military training.