In August 1999, Turkey’s Minister of Culture Istemihan Talay called a press conference. His purpose was to introduce a new book titled Türk Ordusu (The Turkish Military).1 “Turks have been known as a military-nation throughout history,” the minister proclaimed. “The Turkish military is synonymous with Turkish national identity. Our military has won great victories, glory and honor for our nation” (Hürriyet, 11 August 1999).2 The use of the term “military-nation” by a state official in 1999 was hardly out of the ordinary, and, indeed, Talay was not the first Minister of Culture to invoke the idea of the military as a key and sacred institution in Turkish society and the idea that every (male) Turk is born a soldier.3 The book he was introducing with such fanfare was built on the same idea; a state-published work full of statements by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (a speech that he made in 1938 was reprinted), the current president, prime minister, and other luminaries all centered on the “historical” and “heroic” character of Turkish armed forces. The first section of the book was titled: “Türk Askerlik Kültürü” (Turkish Military Culture).
KeywordsMilitary Service Conscientious Objection Turkish Republic Gender Prejudice Compulsory Military Service
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