NEWS

Military service to be limited to army

Young Greek men will soon perform their military service only in the army and not the air force or navy, according to plans unveiled by Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis over the weekend. Speaking on NET TV, Meimarakis said that he would like to see conscripts only in the army by next year. Currently, conscripts are assigned to either the army, air force or navy, although most end up in the army. Meimarakis said that he is also aiming to reduce the time conscripts must serve to nine months, adding that the time is ripe for such a reduction. The basic military service in the army is now 12 months, which is down from 18 months earlier this decade. The defense minister said that this change would be accompanied by rules that would prevent would-be conscripts from putting off their military service for postgraduate studies. Meimarakis suggested that it is difficult for someone with a Master's degree or a PhD to take orders from a drill sergeant. Last April, Meimarakis said that he may rekindle efforts to make it compulsory for all Greek men to do their military service when they reach the age of 18. Meimarakis said that if performing military service is compulsory, the age at which it is performed should also be non-negotiable. Currently, Greek teenagers can obtain permission to delay the start of their service based on family, psychological, health or education grounds. It is fairly common for teens to be allowed to finish their studies before having to serve in the military. A small percentage is also excused completely on medical grounds. The idea of compulsory conscription at 18 was raised by New Democracy in 2004, but discussions never led anywhere.

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