There is a problem with drugs in the national guard, Defence Minister Savvas Angelides admitted on Wednesday.
He spoke about the issue at the end of a Pancyprian Military Championship football match at the AEK arena in Larnaca under the slogan “we say no to addiction, take control into your own hands”.
“As part of our society there is also a drug problem within the National Guard. I don’t want to hide this fact,” Angelides answered when asked about the issue.
“We are in full cooperation with Kenthea, the police and the National Guard Department which are specialised for these issues to tackle addiction,” he said.
Kenthea is an NGO which tackles drug addiction.
President of the Cyprus Football Federation, George Koumas, said: “Today the final is underway at the Military Championship which is being organised by National Guard General Staff with the Federation. For us, working on this issue was firstly a moral obligation as it is fighting addiction.”
As far back as 2015, former defence minister Christophoros Fokaides said the drug problem in the army was “very big”.
“Despite the fact that our emphasis is on prevention, we are reinforcing measures as regards checks and cracking down on trafficking drugs inside the National Guard,” the minister said at the time.
An officer in the National Guard told the Cyprus Mail that “we have to remember that members of the military are also members of the wider society.”
A common complaint from young men in the army are long periods of boredom. Many are stationed in remote outposts with little to do and many smoke cannabis.
The army officer told the Cyprus Mail, on condition of anonymity, that permanent staff are also known to use drugs – with some people losing their jobs after being found out.