Cyprus Mail

Professional army era begins

DEFENCE Minister Christoforos Fokaides Friday announced the successful recruitment of 3,000  professional soldiers selected on merit in a transparent procedure within the timeframe envisaged, he said.

Fokaides, addressing a press conference said that 3,651 of the 5,005 applicants for the positions met the selection requirements scrutinised by the evaluation committee. These included being under 32 years-old, having a school leaving certificate, completing their service in the National Guard without being court martialled, being physically fit, having a clean criminal record and having a good command of the Greek language

The first 3,000 successful recruits would be called to sign an initial one-year contract in October, while the other 651 would be on standby as back-up in case of any drop-outs.

A list of the 3,651 successful applicants as well as those who failed, was published in Friday’s Official Gazette with their identity numbers and pass marks. Fifteen days have been given for any possible appeals to be voiced with any objections to be reviewed before the final list of applicants is again published in the gazette.

Fokaides said the selection process, from beginning to end was carried out in a way that ensured total transparency without allowing any form of nepotism.

“During this whole process we remained faithfully committed and consistent to ensure meritocracy and transparency,” he said, explaining that both the electronic submission of applications for the first time and the announcement of successful candidate on the internet along with their grades proved this.

The minister said that the great interest shown in the positions offered was a vote of confidence in the reform and modernisation plan required in the National Guard and Cyprus in general, through which opportunities and possibilities for employment would be provided for the youth, while allowing a reduction of military service with all its positive implications.

The move to a more professional army is directly linked to the recent reduction of military service for conscripts to 14 months with authorities also hoping it will be an incentive for unemployed young men to stay in Cyprus rather than emigrating.

Contracted soldiers will receive €1,127 a month plus a 13th salary. The contracts will initially be for a year but can be renewed three times for three-year stints up to a maximum of 10 years’ service. On leaving the army soldiers can earn a bonus linked to their salary and time served, provided they complete three and a half years in total.

Working hours will be from 7am to 2pm, five days a week but not excluding duty shifts, identical to the National Guard’s permanent staff, with 20 days holiday a year, the EU minimum and 28 paid sick leave days which could be extended for another 14 days on an army doctor’s orders. Medical treatment in state hospitals will be provided to contracted soldiers and their wives and children. Uniforms will be provided free, as will buses to the camps.

Soldiers will be able to enhance their job skills during service with fees at private universities with which the defence ministry already has cooperation agreements reduced by up to a half for afternoon and night classes.

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