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Friday, November 27, 1998 Published at 23:33 GMT

World: Europe

Turkish pop star in military service row

The military have not been swayed by Tarkan's popularity

By Chris Morris in Ankara

The singer Tarkan, who has millions of fans in his home country, is currently on a highly successful tour in France.

An extract from a Tarkan song
He has had many big hits in Turkey and has been achieving growing success abroad.

However, he is now in trouble after failing to show up for compulsory military service.

He had thought he had done a deal with the prime minister in which he would be appointed a cultural ambassador, postponing his military service and allowing him to concentrate on invading Europe's music charts instead.

No special case

However the military has the final say on many things in Turkey and it was not inclined to make Tarkan a special case.

He was supposed to show up for 18 months service beginning on Friday. He now faces the prospect of being arrested as a deserter when he returns to Turkey.

If he chooses to stay abroad he could eventually be stripped of his Turkish citizenship. Military service is compulsory for every male Turk and the army has become tough on celebrities in recent years.

An MP is currently on trial for avoiding military service and then submitting allegedly false medical reports to cover his tracks.

Tarkan has at least been honest about what he is doing.

Currently on tour in France, he signed a huge recording contract on the strength of the promises he said the government had given him.

But the defence minister said Tarkan was trying to avoid a sacred duty and he should be more obedient to Turkish law.

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