New hope for army of draft dodgers

The Defense Ministry is considering changing the law on men who have not performed their national service, according to statements that minister Yiannos Papantoniou made in Parliament recently. This will be part of an effort to modernize the whole legal framework pertaining to conscription. A first step, which will herald broader changes, is the scrapping of a regulation which does not allow the authorities to issue passports to draft dodgers or men with any other problems with their national service. This stems from a letter which the staff of the defense minister sent to a Greek who lives abroad and who had such problems. According to sources, the letter says that there are thoughts of scrapping the regulation forbidding draft dodgers who live abroad from renewing their travel documents. No date for the changes has been set. The government wants to solve the problem of draft dodgers once and for all, as only about 4,000 of the 18,000 men listed as not having served have made use of the most recent change introduced in 1997. That measure enabled people who had missed doing their national service to serve for a reduced period and to pay off the rest of what would have been full-length service. That last adjustment to the law covered all those born up to and including 1966. There are now thoughts of extending it to those born in 1967. It is also considered certain that, in order to bring Greece in line with the demands of the European Union, those listed as draft dodgers will be cleared at 45 or 40 years of age, as opposed to the current 50.

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