Erdoğan says 18-year-old deputies will be exempted from military service

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during 28th Mukhtars (local administrators) meeting at the Presidential Complex in Ankara on October 19, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has suggested that when a constitutional amendment allowing individuals as young as 18 years of age to be elected to Parliament goes into effect, those young people could be exempted from compulsory military service.

Currently, the age of candidacy in Turkey is 25.

Speaking at one of his regular meetings with muhtars [neighborhood heads] at the presidential palace in Ankara, Erdoğan said he thinks one of the most important constitutional amendments in a reform package that will soon be put to a referendum is one thatallows 18-year-olds to be elected to Parliament.

The package among other things introduces an executive presidency in Turkey.

“Today, the age of candidacy in 57 countries of the world is 18. People are becoming ministers at age 25 or 26. We need to trust our youth. I believe that our youths will make us rise to a different level. Now, some people come up and ask about compulsory military service? Come on, will 7 million youths enter Parliament at the same time? You can just keep them exempted from military service, that’s it,” Erdoğan said.

In Turkey, compulsory military service applies to all male citizens from 20 to 41 years of age. Those who are pursuing higher education or vocational training programs prior to their conscription are allowed to delay service until they have completed the programs or reach a certain age. The duration of basic military service varies: for those without a four-year university degree, 12 months as a private; for those with a four-year university degree or higher, either 12 months as a reserve officer or six months as a short-term private.

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