Cyprus Mail

Audit office army report ‘could have compromised national security’

THE audit office ought to have refrained from making public its report on the state of the armed services’ recruitment system, the defence ministry said on Thursday.

Being matters related to national security and the operational capability of the National Guard, these should have been treated confidentially, it added.

Though welcoming the compiling of the report per se, which it called a “valuable tool,” the ministry said it should not have been published as it contains sensitive military information that could be taken advantage of by adversaries, including the Turkish troops in the north of the island.

“Our position does not emanate from a desire to cover up anything, but rather in order to avoid impacting the sensitive area of defence, security and the operational capability of the National Guard,” the statement read.

Disclosing such sensitive information would, among others, “shake the public’s confidence in the personnel of the armed forces” as well as expose weaknesses to military adversaries.

The ministry did not comment on the substance of the audit office’s report, but did say that it contained certain errors, which it did not specify.

In any event, it added, measures are being taken to improve recruitment of conscripts as well as clamp down on those dodging service in the reservists.  These steps included better computerised archiving and coordination between the police and the military.

According to the audit office’s report, some 11,000 Cypriot men do not serve in the National Guard reserves either because they fail to declare their repatriation, are still listed as being students abroad despite being over 30, or they know someone in high places.

It said 10,930 men who did their army service between 1990 and 2010, have not been recruited as reserves because they are still registered in the computerised system as an “external student.”

The audit showed that out of the total number of people registered as having done army service during the 20-year period, only 46 per cent are listed as reservists, while the remaining 54 per cent are listed as having temporary exemptions from reserve duty.

These include people currently serving as board members of semi-government organisations, football referees in the first division of the Cyprus League, first-division footballers, politicians, as well as people who work at the presidential palace, lawyers and media.

Many also have relatives in the cabinet, local authorities, parliament and big business, the report said.

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