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Cyprus

‘It’s not cool to dodge the draft’

Plan is to offer every kind of alternative service

THE HOUSE defence committee is considering amending legislation making it even tougher for conscripts to dodge the draft.

Giorgos Varnava, EDEK MP and chairman of the committee, said yesterday that there are thoughts on removing entirely the term ‘waiver’ from laws relating to military service.

In September, lawmakers will be looking at introducing new alternative ways for conscripts to do their stint.

The two options currently are full military service, lasting 24 months, and a ‘special service’ for draftees who are deemed to be physically or mentally unfit. The ‘special service’ is longer, 32 months.

However, according to Varnava, prospective draftees are still slipping through the cracks, invoking mostly psychological issues that get them off the hook.

“By introducing several alternatives, one would not be able to get a full waiver. One would do some type of service, but no waiver,” the MP stressed.
Varnava made the comments during a visit by MPs to the Limassol boot camp.

According to the deputy, waivers this year for conscripts assigned to Larnaca boot camp are about the same as last year’s.

However, in Limassol there has been an increase, even though Varnava conceded that in most cases those conscripts claiming psychological problems did produce the necessary medical certificates.

Addressing the fresh draftees, Varnava said they should be proud to serve.

“It’s cool to serve your country, especially when it is under occupation. It is not cool to dodge the draft, and the people doing this should know it,” he said.

“To the few who [falsely] invoke psychological problems, be assured that they will get what’s coming to them.”

Successive governments have pledged to reduce the duration of the draft, but none have acted on their promise.

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