The 3,000 professional soldiers who will be recruited as part of National Guard restructuring will have opportunities for studying, training, future employment and access to scholarships, Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaides said on Tuesday.
He was speaking after a meeting with DISY leader Averof Neophytou to discuss what is involved in the recruitment, part of a plan to restructure the army which has three pillars, the reduction of the military service, structural changes and new armament programmes.
The structural changes and armament programmes are already in full swing, the minister said.
During the meeting he informed the DISY leader of the benefits the professional soldiers will receive, which are an annual net income of € 13,000 and participation in a health care plan.
There are also plans to give soldiers the opportunity to study while they are serving with fees in private universities reduced by up to 50 per cent.
A scholarship plan has been mapped out for specialised areas such as cyber defence and other specialised positions in the navy and for engineers, and training plans made in cooperation with the education ministry will enable soldiers to obtain other qualifications.
Fokaides noted there will also be a point system where professionals will be awarded points based on their years of service which will enable them to obtain posts in the military or state security forces after they leave the army.
“We want a modern army, more battle-ready, with modern operational means to harness new technologies and at the same time we will enable the young people of our country to start their studies earlier and also have employment and educational opportunities,” Fokaides said.
The reduction of the military service was decided in February 2016. The 2015 intake is serving 18 months and conscripts starting from 2016 will spend 14 months in the army.
Since 2008, Greek Cypriot youth have had to serve 24 months in the National Guard. This had replaced an even longer service time, at 26 months, a regime that lasted from right after the Turkish invasion of 1974 to 2002, when one month was shaved off.