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Cyprus

House endorses reduction in military services

The House on Thursday passed legislation cutting mandatory military service from 24 months to 14.

The legislation got the nod from 48 MPs, with two deputies of the Citizens Coalition abstaining.

Earlier this year, the cabinet issued a decision for the recruitment of 3,000 professional soldiers as part of a scheme to restructure the National Guard, which also entails a reduction in mandatory service for conscripts from 24 to 14 months.

Males up to the age of 32 who have done their army service are eligible to join. They will be hired on a one-year trial basis before being offered three-year contracts with a salary of €1,127 per month.

The contracts can be renewed up to three times.

Applicants need to have completed their conscription, have a clean criminal record and a school leaving certificate.

The deadline for applications was June 24, with reports just prior to that cut-off date saying that some 3100 individuals had applied.

The reduction in military service is part of a plan based on a new force structure, redeployment and modernisation, and armament programmes for all three branches – army, navy, air force.

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.

Unveiled late in March, the decision to cut service took everyone by surprise and drew criticism from political parties. The announcement was welcomed by opposition parties, but the timing was roundly condemned as a tactical move ahead of May’s parliamentary elections.

All conscripts who joined after the summer 2015 draft intake will serve 14 months. Males who were drafted in the summer of 2015 will do 18 months rather than the full 24. Those joining in January or June of this year will serve 14 months.

 

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