Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has announced that as of Jan. 1, 2015, those who reach the age of 28 will be eligible for paid exemption from military service at the rate of TL 18,000 ($8,103). He made the announcement while speaking at the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) weekly group meeting in Parliament.
There are reportedly 800,000 people awaiting paid military service and, reportedly, men have vehemently demanded that the age limit be decreased to 25. The requirement to pay TL 30,000 ($13,600) for an exemption from mandatory service is also considered to be too high by many.
Three years ago, the ruling 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 had not yet completed their compulsory military service. The temporary bill allowed men over 29 to pay TL 30,000 to be exempted from their military service. When the long-awaited bill was introduced in 2011, then prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said: "We have two major aims in passing a law on paying to be exempt from military service. The first is decreasing the number of absentees and people who defer their military service, which has risen. Second, we aim to accomplish some very important social services through this law."
The expected revenue in the case that 700,000 men apply to be exempt from military service is TL 12.6 billion ($5.7 billion).
According to the findings of Parliament's Research Center, 125,834 people have benefitted from paid military service regulations in Turkey so far. Such regulations have been made four times, with 67,630 people benefiting from the regulation in 2011, 72,290 people in 1999, 35,111 people in 1992 and18,433 people in 1987.
Speaking to Daily Sabah on Tuesday, Paid Military Service Platform spokesman Özkan Can said that hundreds of people from various professions from craft engineering to teaching gathered in 2011 and established the platform to create awareness on the "victimization" caused by compulsory military service. Can, who could not benefit from the previous exemption bill by 35 days, said the platform achieved its goal to keep the issue in the media and that hundreds of thousands will benefit from the new exemption bill, which will prevent them from losing their jobs and staying away from families. "Once a person comes to a certain age, he has various responsibilities like looking after a family or climbing up the ladder in higher education, which makes it almost impossible to fulfil military service," Can added.
Military service differs in each country in the region. Compulsory military service is imposed in neighboring Greece, Iran, Greek Cyprus and Armenia with the duration of conscription at least 24 months. In Israel, Jews and Druze of both sexes are required to perform military service at 18 years of age. Israel requires 36 months service for men and 21 months for women.
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