Turkish government moves to shorten compulsory military service

Turkish government moves to shorten compulsory military service

Turkish government moves to shorten compulsory military service

Rights groups have long demanded that military service not be compulsory. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

The government is pushing to shorten the mandatory military service of its male citizens, with both the military and the government on the verge of completing the necessary regulations.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the long-term service would be cut from 15 months to 12 for private soldiers, during a live interview on private broadcast A Haber late on Oct. 3.

“There is a draft, a study on the issue [of shortening military service],” Erdoğan said, stressing the General Staff and the Defense Ministry are already in consensus with the government over the reducing the period.

However, the duration of military service for reserve officers will remain at six months, he had added.
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said the legislation that will define the details of the shortening will be put on Parliament’s agenda as soon as possible, supporting the prime minister’s remarks.

“The General Staff and the Defense Ministry have followed through the studies up to certain point and these will be shared with the public,” he said, answering reporters’ questions in the Serbian capital of Belgrade on Oct. 4. Bozdağ said he hoped the Parliament would accept the law rapidly because of the heightened public expectation.

Even removal may be considered: Bağış

He also noted that neither the issue nor the change of plans were new, as the government had been working on it for the past few years.

Also hailing the move, European Union Minister Egemen Bağış, pointed to a further possibility by saying removal of military service all together would be considered as long as peace in the country was maintained.

“Look, how good it is that no new fallen soldier reports have emerged in the country for the past nine or 10 months. Terror has begun to be forgotten … As long as this peaceful environment persists, of course the shortening of the military service, shifting to professional army or the lift of mandatory military service in time can be considered,” he said.

Currently, conscription in Turkey is compulsory for every man of Turkish nationality over the age of 18. Men serve between six and 15 months in military posts to which they are appointed.