Turkish PM Davutoğlu warns army against ‘talking through media’

Turkish PM Davutoğlu warns army against ‘talking through media’

ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency
Turkish PM Davutoğlu warns army against ‘talking through media’

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu arrives at the Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos airport on Dec. 5. AP Photo

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has warned the Turkish military not to “talk through the media” if they have concerns.

Speaking to the press at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport before his departure to Greece, Davutoğlu said the General Staff was connected to the Prime Ministry and did not need the media to express its concerns.

“Our General Staff is connected to the Prime Ministry. A military source does not need to talk to the media to express a concern about any topic. As democratization settles in Turkey, there is something that everyone has to learn: News that relies on unknown sources should end,” Davutoğlu said, referring to a Nov. 5 report in daily Milliyet that the chief of staff general staff and other high-ranking generals were disturbed about the recent decision to let young men exempt themselves from compulsory military service by paying 18,000 Turkish Liras.

The decision was passed through Parliament’s National Security Commission earlier this week.

One of the main concerns expressed by military figures in the article was the fact that the topic was not brought up at the latest Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) meeting on Nov. 27. They are also worried that the army may face a staffing shortage due to a possible high number of applications for a military service exemption, and the affect that paid exemptions may have on privates and the families of privates who are currently performing their military service.

Speaking on Dec. 5, Davutoğlu said there are “healthy and functioning processes” in the working of the state, adding that negotiations between the state’s institutions take place within the democratic culture and the “final decision belongs to the political will.”

“Our General Staff has a very rooted tradition and a very open attitude on this topic. If there is any problem, the source can come forward and speak. News reports written with such quotations may be attractive, but they do not have a place in our state tradition,” he added.

The prime minister stated that the government had decided on two main principles for reform of Turkey’s military, and emphasized that the recent possible paid exemption of young men from compulsory military service was part of these principles. He also said enhancing the military’s “striking and deterrent force” by increasing its high-tech capabilities was another of these “reform principles,” adding that  the gradual transformation of the military into a “more professional army” was another target.