Turkish defense minister has said he is expecting a decision on shortened military service by March next year Today`s Zaman reported.
İsmet Yilmaz said the issue will be brought to a Cabinet meeting on Monday and the Turkish General Staff will present its plan to determine the right time for the regulation.
Yilmaz said the Cabinet will designate a date which won't be later than March next year. He said the regulation will allow at least 70,000 soldiers to leave the military service.
In Turkey, military service is compulsory for all men in good health over the age of 20. However, if a man is enrolled in an institution of higher learning, he is allowed to delay his service until he receives his degree. 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, while those who do not have a four-year bachelor's degree are obliged to perform 15 months of military service.
In 2011, Parliament passed the Bill Amending the Law on Military Service to enable some men to skip military service. The bill allowed men 30 years old and over to get an exemption from compulsory military service in exchange for TL 30,000.
Also in 2011, graduates from the police academy or police officers who have completed higher education programs of at least two years were made exempt from compulsory military duty if they have served in the police force for 10 years or more.
Plans for shortened military service are signs that the government's ongoing efforts to settle the terrorism problem through dialogue and other peaceful methods are being reflected in state policy. The government is currently engaged in talks with the jailed leader of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) to urge the group to end their terrorist activities and leave Turkey. In line with the talks, PKK terrorists began withdrawing from Turkey although they recently halted the withdrawal. The Turkish military is expected to need fewer soldiers to fight terrorism once the PKK problem is resolved.
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