Army conscription dies out in Europe

 Swiss voters on Sunday rejected plans to axe compulsory military service, but the practice has become increasingly rare in Europe since the Cold War ended.

In place since the 19th century in most European countries, conscription armies have gradually been replaced by professional forces since the 1960s.

In the region, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Austria, Greece and Cyprus are the only other countries to have kept their system of conscription.

Led by Britain and Luxembourg in the 1960s and followed in the 1990s and 2000s by nations including Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Poland and Germany, successive European countries have abandoned the call-up.

When it comes to those that maintain conscription, Norway has gone against the tide and is set to extend it to women, in line with a decision by parliament voted last June.

This measure, passed in the name of equality between the sexes and expected to enter into force in 2015, is easy to exchange for civilian service.

In Finland, military service is compulsory for stints of between six and 12 months. Civilian service, which is available for conscientious objectors, is not encouraged as it is twice as long as military service.

In Denmark, military service is still in theory obligatory, but out of nearly 5,000 people in service in 2012, 95.8 percent were volunteers, with the remaining 4.2 percent being drawn out of a hat.

Estonia maintains obligatory military service for a period of eight to 11 months.

In Austria, citizens overwhelmingly voted by 59.8 percent in January to maintain conscription. Some 22,000 every year carry out six months of military service. Austrians who do not want to do military service can do nine months of civilian service.

In Cyprus and Greece conscription has also been maintained, while its duration has been progressively been reduced to nine to 12 months.

Sunday’s referendum in Switzerland marked the latest attempt by anti-military campaigners to use the Alpine country’s system of direct democracy to scrap conscription, but 73 percent backed the status quo in Sunday’s referendum.

2 Responses to Cyprus one of the few countries with army conscription

  1. Jeff Rose says:

    An observation!

    The youth of Cyprus seem very polite and respectful and un-intimidating, the complete reversal to the UK so perhaps there is a message here?

  2. yiannakis stavrianos says:

    the army in cyprus costs to the goverment(cypriot people)aproximately 500 millions a year.from those money 30 per cent ,that means 150 million is commision for those who help people to make the contacts with the goverment.contacts conserning the food the clothes and so on.so if somenone of you is so nayve to thing that certain people are willing to loose that money every year then you are all dead WRONG.How do you thing the political parties here in cyprus and some people earn their money? Well army is one of those sourses my frens so wake up.

Leave a Reply