Reduction of military conscription in Cyprus
The proposal for reduction of military conscription in Cyprus has been an old suggestion made by different Cypriot politicians, an idea which still exists today. Conscription in Cyprus was in force long before the Turkish invasion and subsequent occupation. Turkey occupies 38% of the Island and British "Sovereign" bases occupy 3%. Conscription in Cyprus has been introduced in 1974 to defend the island from future military threat from Turkey which occupied and still controls approximately one third of Cyprus. However, supporters of reduction of military conscription propose a professional army personnel, trained specially for the preservation of peace and stability of the island. The main political parties which support this proposal are Democratic Rally and Progressive Party of Working People together with a number of pressure and activist groups.
Reduction of Military conscription and Turkish Occupation of Cyprus
Supporters of reduction of military conscription suggest the better management of the National Guard in an attack with a limited but highly disciplined paid personnel rather than a chaotic large group of unqualified soldiers. They insist that Cyprus National Guard requires a large expenditure for its needs which could be spent on other aspects of life on the island, which lacks financial support. This idea has been put in practice as of the beginning of 2016 by confining military conscription from 24 months to 14 months. Media analysts and academics said for this policy to have aimed at increasing the popular support of the party in government in the period leading to the parliamentary elections 2016 and has thus confined the military-service time only by weakening the ability of the National Guard.This policy quickly showed to have major shortcomings. A significant number of the hired professional soldiers did not accept the terms of employment. In just a few months of service in February 2017, the Professional soldiers formally protested, in a letter to the Minister of Defense and members of the military leadership, about the number of duty-shifts they are required to perform monthly, as well as the inconsistency between the terms of their contracts and the actual working conditions. Some efforts where made to improve the policy. Yet, major issues are still on the table. Moreover, the decision to hire female soldiers in late 2017 has been argued to have aimed to cover the cursory policy with which contracted soldiers have been hired.
Democratic Rally's support for ending or reduction of military consription
Democratic rally has been a constant supporter of confining military conspription to the minimum number of months. A motion for reduction of military service from 24 to 14 months, while recruiting the necessary number of professional soldiers backed the Democratic Rally in 2011. The chairman of the party Nicos Anastasiades during his press conference presented the proposals of Democratic Rally on Defence, saying that by that way the Cyprus National Guard will be transformed into a modern semi-professional army. Referring to the economic aspect of his proposal, he has said that for only 4 to 5 years the state would incur additional costs but then the cost will be reduced. The party also suggests that by spending the minimum percent of the Gross Domestic Product on Defence and on preserving the needs of military consripted soldiers, it could spend much more on Education and Agriculture.
Progressive Party of Working People's support for ending military conscription
AKEL's MP, Aristos Aristotelous in a press conference for party's stance on the issue is that the reduction of military service is a requirement of society and those who oppose will be confronted with the public. Speaking on the sidelines of the sessions of Parliament, Mr. Aristotle commented that the vast majority of the Cypriot people feel and are convinced that we need to promote reorganization of the National Guard to become a well-trained force in contrast to what prevails today since its creation. Former leader of the party Demetris Christofias, reassured that the overarching objective remains the culmination of an accepted and workable solution to free Cyprus from Turkish occupation and troops.
- Efthymiou, Stratis. (2017) The Unprofesional Professionalisation of the Cyprus National Guard. Cyprus: Cyprus Centre for Strategic Studies. Available at: http://strategy-cy.com/ccss/index.php/el/articles-gr/item/330-the-unprofessional- professionalisation-of-the-national-guard Cyprus.
- Efthymiou, Stratis. (2017). Μείωση θητείας ή κοροϊδία; (in eng. Reduction of Military Service or are they fooling us?). Politis Newspaper.
- Αριστοτέλους, A. (2016a) Στρατιωτική ΘητείακαιΠραγματικότητες: Ελλάδα, Τουρκία, Κύπρος (MilitaryService: Greece, TurkeyandCyprus). http://strategy-cy.com/ccss/index.php/el/anaysis-gr/item/156-stratiotiki-thitia-ke-pragmatikotites-ellada-tourkia-kypros
- Αριστοτέλους, A. (2016) ΑΡΙΣΤΟΤΕΛΟΥΣ: ΟΙ 3.000 ΣΥΟΠ ΟΥΔΟΛΩΣ ΚΑΛΥΠΤΟΥΝ ΤΟ ΚΕΝΟ ΣΤΗΝ Ε.Φ. ΑΠΟ ΜΕΙΩΣΕΙΣ ΣΕ ΘΗΤΕΙΑ ΚΑΙ ΑΝΘΡΩΠΙΝΟ ΔΥΝΑΜΙΚΟ. Cyprus Center for Strategic Studies
- Efthymiou, Stratis. (2017) Cypriot Female Soldiers: Second Class Citizens. Cyprus: Cyprus Centre for Strategic Studies. Available at: http://strategy-cy.com/ccss/index.php/el/surveys-gr/item/346-cypriot-female- soldiers-second-class-citizens Cyprus.
- Efthymiou, Stratis. (2017). Hiring Female Soldiers in the National Guard. DefenceLine.GR. Greece [online] Available at: http://defenceline.gr/index.php/enoples-dynameis/ethikh-froyra/item/4612-cyprus.
- Efthymiou, Stratis. (2017). Η Εθνική Φρουρά προσλαμβάνει πρώτη φορά γυναίκες στρατιώτες: διαστάσεις και προβληματισμοί (in eng. The National Guard hires for the first time female soldiers: dimensions and concerns). Available at: http://www.armynow.net/ethikh-froyra-proslambanei-prvth-fora-gynaikes-strativtes/