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01 March, 2002
The defense ministry on Thursday unveiled portions of a draft bill dealing with Greek citizens who fail to enlist for mandatory conscription service as well as the regime governing assorted military duty deferments.
One of the highlights of the bill is the halving of conscription duty to six months for draft-evaders belonging to the 1986 and 1987 classes, whereas Nov. 30, 2003 is the projected deadline for the enlistment of individuals belonging to the class of 1988.
Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, who presented the bill, said the government's intention is to allow the repatriation of a significant number of native-born Greeks -- a large portion of whom finished their university studies overseas -- who have so far avoided permanently returning to the country because they have been listed as draft-evaders.
In other statements, Papantoniou expressed his opposition to the prospect of allowing the buying off of one's military service.
Greek males are obliged to perform varying amounts of military duty in one of the three armed forces branches, although exceptions affect males with disabilities and in some cases expatriates that qualify for permanent overseas residence status, among others.
According to the ministry's figures, 14,630 Greek citizens were listed as draft-evaders in 2002; up from 13,795 in 2001 and 12,686 two years ago, an growing trend that precipitated in the government searching for measures to alleviate the problem.
Other measures envisioned in the bill include reducing the maximum age an individual can be called up for military duty from 50 to 45 years of age, as well as dropping the ban on issuing or renewing passports at Greek consulates abroad to individuals regarded as draft-evaders.
In terms of deferments, the draft bill foresees an increase in the age limit for individuals pursuing doctorates, up to 31 years of age from 29 -- 33 for medical specialization, up from 31.
A clause for "distinguished scholars" allows academic deferments up to the age of 33, as well. An individual designated as a "distinguished scholar" will serve a six-month term, with a further two-month reduction possible due to family status.
Papantoniou said this designation necessitates the acquisition of a Ph.D. from an internationally recognized university and accompanying academic research or work that will be evaluated by a committee of professors.
Moreover, only 25 such individuals will be eligible for such a distinction every year, the minister said.
The draft bill, ruled constitutional by the state's legal council, will be tabled in Parliament in March.
Source: Athens News Agency