Cyprus Mail

Army service cut on schedule, says minister

Defence Minister Christophoros Fokaides

The government was in the process of implementing a decision to reorganise the National Guard, which included a cut in military service, Defence Minister Christophoros Fokaides said on Monday.

“We have the experience, we have the personnel, we have the infrastructure to implement what has been decided in a coordinated way,” Fokaides said, speaking after a meeting with the chairman of the Citizens Alliance, Giorgos Lillikas:

“Implementation concerns three pillars and they are all underway,” he added.

The plan is based a new force structure, redeployment and modernisation, armament programmes for all three branches – army, navy, air force – and recruitment of professional soldiers that would enable the government to cut the service from 24 to 14 months starting next year.

The gap would be plugged by 3,000 professional soldiers on three-year contracts.

It was his belief, Fokaides said, that the large majority of political parties shared the view that the plan would improve the National Guard and also enable youths to start their life a year earlier.

“Through the meetings we’ve held, I haven’t heard any disagreement with the objectives towards this,” the minister said.

Announced late last month, the decision to cut service took everyone by surprise and drew criticism from political parties.

They said they did not object to the decision but questioned the timing – two months before the parliamentary elections – and censured the fact that they had not been informed of the government’s intentions.



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