NICOSIA: MPs on Tuesday voiced concern about the use of drugs in the National Guard amid indications that more than one in 10 soldiers are drug users.
House Watchdog Committee chairman George Georgiou said that according to a sample survey, some 12% of National Guardsmen were drug users. He said the issue needed to be tackled, including through a reduction of military service.
Akel MP Irene Charalambides voiced concern at the National Guard Commander’s admission that 12% of conscripts take drugs.
“I consider this a very high figure and as a country we must find ways to deal with it, not just in the army but more generally.”
She said the Defence Minister had acknowledged that two years of military service was too long and led to social and other problems. But the minister had pointed out that the National Guard must first be reorganised before it can be cut.
Edek MP Fidias Sarikas described the drug problem as the army’s “nightmare” adding that it appeared that even professional soldiers were using drugs. Under the current legal framework, it was impossible to carry.
Georgiou said the committee has urged the ministry to cut down rents, adding that the regional military conscription offices are to be scrapped and the services transferred to the citizens’ advice bureau.
The committee also heard that €12.8m were needed to destroy large quantities of antiquated ammunition stored in the countryside.