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Defence committee calls ministry rush ‘blackmail’

Army training centre (CM archives)

By Andria Kades

A MINISTRY of Defence letter calling on MPs to pass regulations and a bill for officers’ promotions and early retirements by November 19 was greeted by a storm on Wednesday by the House defence committee that described the request ‘blackmail’.

Committee chairman Giorgos Varnava said “I consider this blackmail from the MoD to the defence committee and it cannot be accepted. “

The bill is supposed to modernise the current legislation.

Varnava said in July that Defence minister Christoforos Fokaides gave them the impression the regulations were ready and were to be submitted to parliament. However they were only handed over on October 22 in a manner that allegedly blackmailed MPs into passing them by November 5.

Stressing that the paperwork is over 200 pages long, the timeframe was impossible and after a reaction from the committee, Varnava spoke to Fokaides asking for a two week extension until November 19.

Nevertheless, it seems as though the drafts the MoD handed over to MPs paint a picture of some very specific individuals, Varnava added, saying the committee will not allow any regulations that serve personal interest, but is looking for the interests of all officers.

Parliament has been waiting for these regulations for nine years, he said, in order to sort out the hierarchy in the National Guard and mass promotions to lower ranking officers who have been on the same level now for 15 years.

DIKO MP Neophytos Constantinou said the stance by the ministry was clearly an act of blackmail.

“We cannot accept blackmail nor can we vote for bills for the temporary satisfaction of some individuals.”

Meanwhile, DISY MP Andreas Michaelides sought to defend the ministry’s stance saying “we shouldn’t see shadows and conspiracies everywhere” following insinuations by Constantinou that they were purposely handed over the last minute so they could be rushed into effect.

 

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