Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaides on Tuesday visited the National Guard training camp (KEN) in Paphos to address the new recruits.
He was accompanied by the Chief of the National Guard Lieutenant George Basiakouli and they had lunch with the conscripts.
In his address Fokaides spoke about the changes that have been made for the benefit of conscripts and the proposals before parliament on instituting a new framework for meritocracy within the National Guard command structure.
On improvements to the life of conscripts he mentioned the rolling out of the distance learning programme with the Open University, and also for those not interested in a degree, vocational training programmes. Army camps are also being provided with workout equipment, sports programmes, martial arts lessons and self-defence classes.
He also mentioned the 24-hour helpline 1430 for recruits and their families if they need information or want to make a complaint during their military service. Fokaides said parliament had recently passed a bill into law for extra leave days for soldiers posted away from home.
He said the training camp had been given strict instructions to make sure there was continuous monitoring of the conscripts in terms of nutrition, hygiene, education and safety and “to ensure that they will have a smooth a transition as possible into the ranks”.
Asked about draft dodging, Fokaides said as soon as they have this year’s figures, they would be compared with those collected last year to see if there had been an improvement. It had been estimated that the figure stood at 20 per cent of all recruits.