New legislation on military service considers Turkish expats concerns

November 21, 2011, Monday/ 16:11:00/ HASAN CÜCÜK

With the government preparing a long-awaited bill to introduce an option for potential draftees to pay a fee in lieu of performing compulsory military service, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç signaled at a press conference on Sunday that there may also be a change in the rules for compulsory military service obligations for Turkish citizens living abroad.

The current practice allows Turkish citizens who have lived abroad for more than three years to elect to pay 5,120 euros and complete an abridged 21-day military service program in the southern province of Burdur to meet their military service obligation. Arınç announced at the press conference that according to the new proposal, expats will no longer need to come Turkey to participate in 21-day program and will instead be able to get an exemption from compulsory service by paying a higher fee.

During his address following a meeting of the council of ministers, Arınç said the current practice has caused many problems for Turkish expats living abroad, including economic and legal challenges.  

“For instance, there are Turkish expats who hold positions such as members of parliament in other countries such as Australia and Belgium. One such parliamentarian recently requested permission to take leave to travel to Turkey to carry out his 21-day military service obligation but received a negative response from the head of the parliament citing the rules of that country. We have to solve this problem,” said Arınç, providing an example of a disadvantage of the existing regime for Turkish citizens abroad.

Arınç noted that one of the main complaints made by Turkish citizens to the Turkish Foreign Ministry is about the current regime of compulsory military service.

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