Thousands of Greek Cypriot men do not show up for reserve military service, with the auditor general sounding the alarm over a vast majority of cases not being properly documented.
Close to 11,000 men, who have completed their compulsory military service and went to study abroad, continue to stay off active reservist rosters even after the completion of their studies, according to the auditor general’s office who says 10,930 men from the classes of 1990 through 2010 have not settled their military reserve papers.
According to Cyprus News Agency (CNA), 54% of the reservist force show up in the system with a deactivated status. This means that only up to 46% are active and assigned to combat-ready units.
“Besides shortchanging the National Guard, this issue is causing feelings of injustice and unfair treatment among citizens of the Republic,” a statement from the auditor general’s office said.
Study abroad for life
In many cases people in their 30’s and 40’s show up in the system as studying abroad, working overseas, or living permanently in another country, while at least 381 of them are described as civil servants who work for the government of the Republic of Cyprus.
Many cases include known lawyers, football referees, elected officials, known businessmen, sons of ex government officials, as well as former senior officers from the police and National Guard. The list also points to party officials, defence ministry administrators, presidents of athletic associations and football players.
While it was not immediately clear how many cases were legitimate, officials have sounded the alarm over vast numbers of reservists who are not assigned to their units with many cases not being properly documented.
Officials sound the alarm over vast numbers of reservists who are not assigned to units, with many cases not being properly documented
In one case, a possible conscientious objector was not reported as such, with Larnaca police officers sending back his file to army headquarters with a note that the man’s address could not be confirmed. But the man, who had gone to his local police station back in 2017, had actually refused in-person to receive his written orders to report to his assigned reservist unit.
According to local media, he explained to police officers that he had already served in the military after high school and that he had every right as a European citizen to decline reserve duty in the military. None of his comments were included in his file except that his address was listed as unknown.
Similar cases elsewhere in the Republic of Cyprus were also reported, with reservists staying off the active rosters either by refusing to provide their current address to local police or cops reporting back to the military that they were understaffed to do the work.
Other cases included reservists who received deactivated status due to having been hired as police officers or fire fighters, while no record of their hiring existed. There were also dozens of them who had quit their jobs but never got activated as reservists.
According to the auditor general’s office, sons of foreign nationals who gained Cypriot citizenship were wrongly taken off the military list altogether in direct violation of laws on National Guard service. The finding has put in question interior ministry policies that were enacted back in 2008, affecting citizenships granted through 2017.
Military service on the island is mandatory for adult males. But public debate over conscientious objectors has not been the norm over the years.
Defence ministry officials are reportedly kickstarting a number of reforms to make reservist duty less difficult for adult males, such as providing more flexible hours during exercise drills.