Armenians of Cyprus will be serving in the military forces

According to “Gibrahayer” e-magazine the Armenians of Cyprus were called to serve the Cyprus National Guard (the military forces of Cyprus).


On 9th January 2007, Dr. Petros Kareklas, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defense called the representatives of the three “religious” minorities in Cyprus (the Armenians, Maronites and Latins) to inform them that the decision will be put forward for approval by the Ministerial Council as early as end of February and will have immediate effect.


Following is an article on the same subject:


Duty calls for minority groups in Cyprus


By Natalie Aoun


MEMBERS of the Maronite, Armenian and Latin communities in Cyprus may now be forced into compulsory military service after the Permanent Secretary of the Defence Ministry, Petros Kareklas, met with representatives of the religious minorities yesterday.


The government intends to change the law, with a final decision to be taken by the Council of Ministers.


The authorities believe that if approved, the new law will immediately overturn a 1994 ministerial decision which confirmed the exemption of minority groups, allowing them to enlist only if they so wished.


Deputies Antonis Hadjiroussos of the Maronites, Vartkes Mahtesian of the Armenians, and Benito Mantovani of the Latins were yesterday notified by Kareklas of the new proposal.


Speaking to the Mail, Hadjiroussos said that Kareklas had expressed some strong opinions as to the necessity for change. Hadjiroussos stated that he, along with Mahtesian and Mantovani, had never been negative towards the proposal, but felt that the current need for change was unjustified with the reasons given by the government.


He added that Kareklas has called for the change as a result of numbers not being adequate, which has been caused by the significant amount of Greek Cypriots requesting exemption from the service, claiming to be suffering from psychological problems.


The government is reported to have been contemplating the change since last February, when Ombudswoman Iliana Nicolaou received complaints from young Greek Cypriots who had appealed to her, saying they felt discriminated against as members of minority groups were excused from military service.


It is hoped that the proposed change in the law will promote equality in a democratic system.


Another issue set to be discussed is the long-running saga concerning those who try to get out of entering the army by claiming to be suffering from psychological problems. According to the President of the House Defence Committee, EDEK leader Yiannakis Omirou, the Committee has agreed on a proposal for another change in the law, which will ensure that those objecting to serving will instead be forced into community service.


It is not yet clear as to the length of community service, with some calling for it to exceed the 26 months currently spent in military service.


According to Omirou, “the aim will not be to punish those in question but rather to offer them an alternative”.


Source: ?Cyprus Mail?, 10 January 2007 (with adjustments)