Fokaides believes that by introducing training programmes whereby conscripts can start studying for a diploma will drastically reduce the dodging of military service which has been the bane of previous years.
Training has been intensified by introducing new fitness and gymnastics programmes as well as training in martial arts. The new year will see diploma level first aid courses being introduced to conscripts for the first time.
Fokaides said that conscripts have responded favourably to the new measures, stressing that it would have not been possible without the cooperation of the academic institutions that have signed memorandums of cooperation with the Defence Ministry. It is also through this cooperation, that the Ministry is able to offer scholarships to conscripts from low income families to further their studies.
In addition to the decision to reduce military service to 14 months, Fokaides stressed that a new law was being presented to parliament to close any windows that were being used in the past to dodge military service.
Military service in the National Guard of the Republic of Cyprus is mandatory for males born of a Cypriot parent, members of the Greek Cypriot community. All male residents of the island, or visitors who have a parent of Cypriot extraction, who are of military age (16 and over) are required to obtain an exit visa from a Defence Ministry office.