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Greece Extends Military Service to 12 Months

Military service
Military service has been set to a 12-month term for all conscripts. Credit: Skylax30/Wikimedia commons

Greece announced on Thursday that is extending the mandatory military service in the land forces to twelve months, from the current nine.

The duration of military service in the Greek Army, the Navy and the Air Force has now been set to a 12-month term for all conscripts across the three branches, effective as of May.

The decision was reached during a meeting of the Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA) which was chaired by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

The only exception, clarified by Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos, concerns conscripts who have been assigned to units with special operational and geographical characteristics, where they can serve for just nine months, provided they remain at these units for the full duration of their service.

The exception to the rule is thought to affect conscripts serving along the border with Turkey or on the Aegean islands.

Strengthening the Armed Forces

Panagiotopoulos said that the increased military service, in combination with the recruitment of professional officers and the increase of students in the military schools, will “significantly strengthen the Armed Forces.”

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had spoken about the issue in September of 2020 when he said that the increase would not go beyond twelve months.

He added that there are thoughts for compulsory conscription at 18. This “is an issue that I am discussing and the government is discussing it, but I am not ready to say anything more,” Mitsotakis said.

He had also stressed the need for new recruits to develop skills that will be useful to them in their life after the Army.

Military service in Greece is mandatory for all able-bodied males from the age of 19.

Permanent deferment

The following categories of citizens are not required to serve in the armed forces of Greece:

  • Women.
  • People with serious health problems, including the mentally ill;
  • Fathers of three or more children;
  • The eldest son in a family whose members cannot support themselves;
  • Father whose wife has died or is incapable of work and whose children cannot support themselves;
  • Foreigners living in the monastic community of Mount Athos.

There are also provisions concerning conscientious objectors.

In 1997, the Greek Parliament voted a law that established alternative and unarmed service for conscientious objectors and in 2001, it amended the Constitution to recognize the right to conscientious objection.

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