Yılmaz responded to questions from reporters in Parliament about discussions on the issue on Friday. He said a detailed proposal will be prepared but did not provide any details about when the proposal will be ready. “We will submit our proposal to the prime minister and he will announce the details,” Yılmaz said.
Compulsory military service has been a much-debated issue in Turkey, which has been fighting against terrorism for decades. Military service is compulsory for all healthy men in Turkey, and the length of service depends on one’s level of education as well as the military’s needs. 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 while those who do not have a four-year bachelor’s degree are obliged to fulfill 15 months of military service.
Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek on Friday voiced his support for a proposal for potential draftees to be able to pay a specified amount of money in lieu of performing compulsory military service, adding that all political parties have a positive approach toward this concept.
“I hope a balance will be established [between the number of soldiers needed and the number of soldiers who will benefit from the new practice] and expectations [regarding the issue] are met,” said Çiçek.
Mustafa Elitaş, group deputy chairman of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), said the government is working on a proposal that will not upset the nation. “The government will provide the final framework for this proposal. This will resolve the problems of those individuals who are waiting to perform a shorter period of military service or who have delayed performing compulsory service for many years,” Elitaş said.
The issue of “paid” military service came back on Turkey’s agenda after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan commented on Tuesday that nothing was yet certain but that discussions were still continuing on the issue.