We’ve all seen them, indeed some sharp eyed readers may even have noticed that there is a cycle to the flags on vehicles syndrome. So what’s it all about?

We’ve all seen them, indeed some sharp eyed readers may even have noticed that there is a cycle to the flags on vehicles syndrome. So what’s it all about?

Some of you no doubt know what prompts this overt display of nationalism but, for those who don’t, read on.

All Turkish men have to do national service, a concept that is no doubt dear to the hearts of some people reading this.

When, and for how long, they are conscripted is complicated, and we won’t bore you with all the details.

Suffice it to say that they are liable for military service when they reach the age of 18, unless they are continuing in full-time education.

As the normal school-leaving age is 14, many young men of 18 will have already worked for four years, some of them may even have married (though marriage before military service is not normally undertaken) and then they have to go to the army for 18 months.

Youths with this minimal education serve as ordinary soldiers and invariably find themselves posted to the other end of the country.

So the bog standard length of military service is 18 months, and this can fall to as little as a one-month basic training for those wealthy enough to pay 5,000 euros or dollars (we’re not sure of the exact amount or currency at the moment) to boost government funds.

There are different lengths and conditions of service for youths who continued their education to the end of lycee (sixth form college) and a university graduate serves a mere five months as an officer.

All young men go into the army at one of four dates during any year, these being: end of February, May, August and November.

And we haven’t forgotten the flags.

Families with a son going to the army, or sometimes it may even be the owner of the car himself who is about to become a soldier, fly the flag on their cars to show how proud they are.

As soon as February is over the flags will disappear only to return on cars connected with the next intake at the end of May.

So now you know.

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