By Evie Andreou
CYPRUS has avoided being penalised by the European Court of Human Rights after the House passed an amendment last night to the defence law concerning the length of service for conscripts with one foreign parent.
The head of the House defence committee George Varnava who tabled the motion said that the bill provides that as of 2016 conscripts with a Cypriot mother and a foreign father, even if they do not have the Cypriot nationality, will do the full service of 24 months.
The current law provides that people born between August 16, 1960 and June 11, 1999, to a foreign father and a Cypriot mother serve a reduced term if they gained the Cypriot nationality through their mother.
Under the same rules, those born to a foreign mother and Cypriot father and who gained nationality through their father have to do the full service.
The amendment was necessary since a Cypriot citizen reported Cyprus to the European Court of Human Rights, Varnava said.
The law will not have retroactive effect, Varnava said, but will be in effect from the day it is published in the government Gazette.
He also said that according to age, expats with Cypriot origin might be called to serve, if they receive the Cypriot nationality or take up residence in Cyprus, and that people over the age of 26 will serve for only three months.
He added that the last conscripts who will serve six months is the 2015 call, and concerns students who will graduate this summer from high schools.
A second amendment concerning extra points to conscripts who serve far from their home, was also tabled for a vote.
Varnava explained that soldiers from outlying areas like Paphos and Limassol will receive extra days off when they serve in camps away from home.
According to the amendment, for every seven points they receive, soldiers will be allowed an extra day off.
Varnava gave as an example a soldier from Paphos who serves in Nisou, near Nicosia, and said that he will receive four points for each month he serves there.
“In the case this soldier serves all of his term in Nisou, he will receive in total ten days off more than the conscripts who serve in units of their choice,” Varnava said.
DISY member Andreas Michaelides said that this measure ‘rectifies an injustice’ for conscripts from Limassol and Paphos because there are not many National Guard units in these two districts and, as a result, they are forced to serve far from home.
The law amendment also provides that conscripts with a Greek nationality will be granted a 15-day leave if they wish to travel to Greece to take the university entrance exams as Greek expats, since up till now they had to secure a special permit from the Defence ministry for their absence.