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Parliamentary questions
19 January 2009
Joint answer given by Mr Rehn on behalf of the Commission
Written questions : E-6479/08 , E-6481/08 , E-6480/08

As concerns the Turkish military service system, the Commission is informed as follows: Turkey has a compulsory military conscription system. Turkish citizens living abroad must register with the military in Turkey. According to the law on citizenship, Turkish citizens who do not comply with their military service obligation shall have their Turkish citizenship revoked. Turkish citizens studying abroad can apply for a deferment of service until they are 33 years old. Turkish citizens (including dual citizens), who have been working or residing abroad for at least three years are entitled to complete a one-month military service (short term) under the condition of paying an amount of money. For dual citizens residing abroad, the maximum age for postponement of military service is 38. Turkey is not party to ‘the Convention on the Reduction of Cases of Multiple Nationality and on Military Obligations in Cases of Multiple Nationality’. However, completing military service in the following countries is accepted as valid military service in Turkey: Germany, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France (except those born after 1979), Israel, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy (only for those born before 1 January 1985), Norway, Greece, Tunisia and Syria.

Military service systems vary widely across EU countries and in any event are not regulated by EC laws. Military service systems of candidate countries are not, therefore, subject to scrutiny under the Copenhagen political criteria. The Commission is, therefore, not in a position to provide any of the figures in relation to the above issues.

As concerns conscientious objection, the current Turkish legal framework does not regulate this issue adequately. As indicated by the European Court of Human Rights, this creates a risk that those who refuse to perform their military service on conscientious or religious grounds face repetitive and unlimited penal sanctions, thus resulting in a violation of Article 3 (degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Developments related to conscientious objection are reviewed as part of the accession negotiations, in the context of Chapter 23 — Judiciary and Fundamental Rights. As appropriate, they are also raised with the Turkish authorities' in the framework of the regular political dialogue. The Commission reported on the situation in this area in its 2008 Progress Report.

Finally, OYAK is a holding comprising about 40 companies with a total employment of 34 836. The capital of OYAK comes from the fees deducted from the salaries of Turkish officers and civil servants working for Turkish Armed Forces and the Ministry of Defence. According to the law OYAK is affiliated to the Ministry of National Defence. Contributions from Turkish citizens living in the EU for the fulfilment of their compulsory military services are not payable to OYAK but to Turkey's Treasury. There is no direct transfer from the state or military budget to OYAK or to the OYAK Fund.

Strengthening efforts to align civilian control of the military in line with the practice in EU Member States is one of the priorities spelled out in the 2008 Accession Partnership for Turkey, and is regularly monitored in the Commission progress Reports. The Commission will continue to encourage Turkey to take the necessary measures in order to make further progress in this area.

OJ C 316, 23/12/2009
Last updated: 11 February 2010Legal notice