NICOSIA - A proposal suggesting that compulsory military service is slashed to 15 months in two separate phases is set to be presented to the Cabinet on Wednesday.
If approved, the plan, which has already been reviewed by the House, will see an initial reduction from 24 to 18 months and a final cut to 15 months once the necessary changes have been made to military operations.
According to what was said during a House Defence Committee meeting on Monday, the Ministries of Education, and Defence are in agreement that reducing military term by 9 months is feasible.
The 15-month term was settled on after the authorities consulted with state universities in Cyprus which said they would change the academic year to begin in October instead of September in order to coincide with the release of recruits from the army.
MPs were informed during the committee meeting that a number of military departments will be dismantled and others will be reinforced with commissioned personnel prior to any reductions to the term.
Concern was expressed by a number of deputies over the cost of hiring additional personnel during the economic crisis.
House Defence Committee Chairman George Varnavas urged patience, saying that a reduction in military service can only take place once plans to modernise the National Guard have been implemented.
He reassured that any decision to slash the length of service will not compromise Cyprus’ defence capabilities.
“In order to reduce the current term we must first restructure our military and this will take organisation, funds and considerable time. No one is against reducing the term but it must be done in a way that does not negatively affect our operational and defence capabilities.”
Minister of Defence Fotis Fotiou agreed that the initial goal is to restructure and modernize the army but also reduce the term once the conditions allow.
“Restructuring the military and reducing the compulsory term are directly correlated. We consider reducing the military service to 15 months ideal,” said Fotiou who confirmed the proposal, conducted by his ministry and National Guard, will be presented to Cabinet today.
The minister noted that in preparing the proposal several factors such as the current financial crisis, operational demands and service to society were taken into consideration.
Reducing the army term to 14 months was one of the pre-election pledges of President Nicos Anastasiades. With the exception of Israel, Cyprus’ 24 month compulsory military service is the longest in the world.