The independent resource on global security

Measuring Turkish Military Expenditure

Publisher: SIPRI
March, 2014

Estimating how much Turkey spends on its military requires a detailed study to determine which government spending is for military-related activities and to trace its source. While details of some of Turkey’s military expenditure is available online—such as the budgets of the Ministry of National Defence—access to information about other elements is limited or, in some cases, impossible.

For example, estimating the cost of servicing foreign loans taken out for military projects requires calculation of interest based on incomplete information. In the case of military pensions and transfers from the Turkish Armed Forces Foundation, no public information is available.

Calculating or estimating all the elements of Turkish military expenditure leads to the conclusion that the military burden in Turkey is approximately 2.4 per cent of gross domestic product. Although military spending has fallen from the peak reached in the late 1990s, Turkey continues to have a relatively high military burden—in 2012, it had the world’s 15th highest military expenditure. There is scope for reductions in military spending, in particular in spending on personnel in parallel with a reduction in the size of the army. There is an equal need to improve democratic oversight of the military and to increase transparency in military data.


I. Introduction

II. Tracking military spending

III. Total military spending in Turkey

IV. Conclusions


Professor Dr Nurhan Yentürk has been Professor in the Department of Economics of Istanbul Bilgi University since 2003 and is Director of its NGO Training and Research Center.