Turkey should have a smaller but more expert army, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said Monday in the wake of the July 15 attempted coup.
Speaking after a cabinet meeting in Ankara, Kurtulmuş said military reforms were underway to create a specialised military “whose only aim will be to protect the country.”
Turkey’s conscription military is the second-largest force in NATO. According to the Global Firepower website, the Turkish Army is the eighth most powerful military in the world with more than 596,000 personnel.
Ankara has already taken steps to increase civilian control over the military since the failed coup -- raising the number of ministers on the Supreme Military Council and strengthening links between the government and military commanders.
The attempted coup saw conscripts, who serve a maximum 12 months in uniform, ordered on to the streets of Istanbul and Ankara alongside more seasoned troops. More than 10,000 military personnel have been arrested since the bid to overthrow the government.
They are suspected of having links to US-based preacher Fetullah Gülen, who the government says masterminded the plot.
Turkey has called for Gülen’s extradition from Pennsylvania to face trial. Kurtulmuş called on the US to respect Turkey’s “friendship and alliance” by handing him over.
Kurtulmuş also criticised German “double standards” in swiftly banning President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from addressing a pro-democracy rally in Cologne on Sunday after the failed coup. He also pointed out that the trials of suspected neo-Nazi murderers have dragged on since May 2013.
“The NSU cases have been continuing for years,” he said, referring to the National Socialist Underground.
“These court cases are always extended, they are not decided. However, the ban on our president’s planned speech was quickly decided in less than 24 hours. Bravo to German justice. This is a clear double standard.”
The NSU is believed to be behind the murders of 10 people, including eight Turkish nationals in Germany between 2000 and 2007.