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Compulsory military service abolished

COMPULSORY military service will soon be a thing of the past. No young men will be conscripted for duty into the Slovak armed forces as of August 1, the Hospodárske noviny reported.

Minister of Defence Juraj Liška announced the move on July 15, during the Pohoda music festival at Trenčín's military airport.

The reason for discontinuing military service now is that Slovakia's army is becoming a professional army faster than was originally estimated. Ninety percent of the Slovak armed forces are non-conscripts, which is already ahead of the original 88-percent target for the end of the year.

There are currently 1,600 conscripts serving in the Slovak military. Three hundred joined in July. They will leave two days before Christmas Eve on December 22.

One reason for the cancelling of national service is that services such as cooking and cleaning are now being undertaken by private firms. The Ministry of Defence has already allocated Sk500 million (€13 million) for such services.

Duties such as guarding military facilities will, for the time being, be secured by civil employees of the Defence Ministry, but as of 2007 will also be in the hands of private firms.

For six months of national service a conscript costs the army around Sk42,000 (€1,092), on average. The ministry says that comparisons with the cost of maintaining a professional army are impossible, since the two systems are totally different. From the long-term perspective it is much more beneficial to maintain a professional army, the ministry stated.

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