Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has expressed support for partially exempted paid military service at his party's weekly parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday.
"We believe it is crucial to resolve the issue of paid military service as soon as possible" said Bahçeli, who stated that his party will support a proposal about this if the government prepares a bill. He stated that the issue of paid military service has recently acquired currency in Turkey and said the government should respond to the demands of the people in this respect.
Bahçeli declared that the protection of the nation has no price tag, but noted there are thousands of men who have not yet served their compulsory military service and called for the introduction of a law on paid military service. "The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) should take into consideration the demand, potential and capacity, while making sure that the protection of the nation is not threatened" said Bahçeli, who added that the TSK's opinion should be sought before making such decision.
The opposition leader stated that it is necessary to re-evaluate the matter by taking into consideration the defense needs of the country as well as Turkey's public order. He underlined that the MHP would support a law proposal if the government were to introduce it.
In 2011, the ruling AK Party opened the way for payment to be accepted in lieu of military service in a bid to address the demands of tens of thousands of men over the age of 29 who hadn't yet completed their compulsory military service. The temporary bill allowed men over 29 to pay 30,000 TL to be exempt from military service.
When the long-awaited bill was introduced in 2011, then Prime Minister Erdoğan announced that the government aimed to decrease the number of absentees and people who defer military service, which had significantly increased at the time, and to use the acquired funds for a series of social services.