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Over 4,000 apply for place in new-look army

Army training centre (CM archives)

MORE than 4,000 applications have been submitted for the second call-up for professional soldiers, many from holders of university degrees, Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaides said on Thursday.

The deadline for the second annual call to hire professional soldiers in the National Guard expired on Wednesday.

“Just like last year’s competition, the expressed interest is extremely large. Specifically, 4,016 applications were submitted,” Fokaides said.

“I consider it an expression of confidence in this new institution.”

The scheme is part of the move to a more professional army which is directly linked to the 2016 reduction of military service for conscripts to 14 months.

Fokaides said that just like last year, it appears that a significant number of candidates are holders of university degrees. The academic and professional qualifications of successful applicants will be utilised depending on the needs of the service.

This year for the first time, women and current conscripts can also apply after the relevant legislation was recently amended. The defence ministry was heavily criticised last year after announcing it would hire only men. In the first call-up around 5,000 men had applied for 3,000 professional army positions in the National Guard. The first 3,000 successful recruits signed an initial one-year contract in October last year and were trained in November.

The National Guard, Fokaides said, “is changing, being modernised, transformed into a modern and credible army based on the professionalism and high training of its members”.

The next phase of the recruiting process, Fokaides said, is a physical test which will be held between June 19 and 21, followed by a medical check-up. The final results will be announced in August and successful candidates will start their service in September.

Eligible candidates were men and women under 32 years old who have a school leaving certificate, a clean criminal record and a good command of the Greek language. Those who have completed their military service should have done so with a I1 or I2 fitness class.

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 ten 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. Positions in the army and police are available after they quit their position.

Soldiers will also be able to enhance their job skills during service as there is a scholarship scheme and a vocational training scheme in place for special positions. In addition, soldiers may take afternoon and night classes at private universities at reduce fees by up to a half.

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