Cyprus Mail

Around 10-15 per cent of new professional army applicants have dropped out, will be replaced by runners up

Around 10-15 per cent of the 3,000 successful applicants who applied to be part of Cyprus; first professional army, have dropped out, due either to finding another job, going to study, changing their minds, or due to other circumstances, Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaides said on Sunday.

Speaking at an Eoka memorial event, Fokaides said they would be replaced by runners up in the interviews. The defence ministry had initially received 5,000 applications.

The minister said that training for the new army was due to begin within weeks at KEN Larnaca and would last around a fortnight. Those who applied have already done their national service, which was part of the conditions.

Fokaides said there would probably be further more specific training later in their own speciality areas which would give “added value” to the military.

The minister also said that those applicants who were family men would most likely be stationed near their homes.

As for those who dropped out, Fokaides said the rate was probably 10-15 per cent.

“We will give a margin until November 19 for some others who may not have had time to attend on specific dates to sign contracts due to being abroad or who were tied up with other obligations, before closing the process,” he said.

Requirements for the job included being under 32 years-old, having a school-leaving certificate, completing national guard service without being court martialed, being physically fit, having a clean criminal record and having a good command of the Greek language.

The criteria was later slammed by the ombudswoman for being sexist and ageist, though women in Cyprus are not conscripted and have never demanded to be. Having conscripts already trained up due to prior army service means fewer training costs involved in setting up a professional army.

The first 3,000 successful recruits are signing an initial one-year contract, while another 651 are on standby as back-up.

The point of recruiting a professional army was to cut down on miliary service for conscripts to 14 months from 24.

Contracted soldiers will receive €1,127 a month plus a 13th salary. The contracts 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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