Address of the Minister of National Defence Mr Evangelos Apostolakis:
“Welcome, Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you know, the bill has been posted by the Ministry of National Defence for public consultation and includes a number of issues regarding the Armed Forces in general, but mostly the personnel and its organisation.
Its provisions, as they have been gathered and grouped by the General Staffs during the last months, regulate a great number of pending matters, seeking for each one of them the best possible solution, so that, we cover ourselves with regard to financial cost, mainly having as a rule to actually contribute to the meeting of our occupational and personal needs. This refers mostly to the personnel.
The most important regulations of the bill include the inclusion of the military in the right of representation and defence in criminal courts, for cases of military nature, by officials of the Legal Council of the State, a right already achieved by the civil servants, as well as the Security Forces and the Fire Department members. There is also care regarding working office hours and personnel’s transfers, for those facing serious health problems or caring for disabled persons; the Offices of the Members’ Legal Protection are recommended, in order to provide immediate and direct advice to the members regarding their military cases and also the Staffs are called to contribute to the detection of any mismanagement cases.
At the same time, a constant request of the Extended Service Volunteers is met, regarding their admission to the Officers’ Corps as Second Lieutenants and their commission as First Lieutenants upon retirement.
Regarding recruitment legislation, the duration of the service of the conscientious objectors equates that of the obligatory military service, annulling its current two months increase, as the law dictates. A regulation is also introduced regarding a great number of draft-evaders, who are given the opportunity to settle their draft-evasion until the end of 2020 and the military service for every family with three or more children is reduced.
It is also worth mentioning that a new type of identity card is established regarding the Armed Forces’ members, who as you know, faced some problems when using it as a travelling document. The new type will also be used as a travelling document and its security specifications will be upgraded, while more favourable admission criteria are introduced regarding the students of the Attica regions that suffered the 23-24 July 2018 fires, to be admitted to military academies for the 2019-2020 academic year.
Next, I will call upon the Alternate Minister of National Defence Mr Rigas to take the floor, him being the one who, during his term here, worked very hard and methodically, to bring this bill in its current state and present it for consultation. An extraordinary effort has been made, an excellent job, by both Staffs. Mr Rigas achieved the specified time tables needed and we managed to prepare the bill a lot faster”.
Address of the Alternate Minister of National Defence Mr P. Rigas:
“Ladies and Gentlemen,
First, I would like to thank you for your presence here today, intended to focus on the presentation of our Ministry’s bill, under the title “Regulations Regarding Armed Forces Personnel, Recruitment, Military Justice and Other Provisions” and also to clarify any questions arising in the context of the consultation that was just concluded yesterday.
The subject of the said bill is the settlement of issues regarding the welfare of the regular military personnel and the soldiers who fulfill their obligatory military service, under the responsibility of the Ministry of National Defence, as well as the settlement of issues regarding recruitment legislation, the conscientious objectors and other administrative procedures.
Furthermore, the forwarded provisions are intended to settle various other issues under the Ministry of National Defence responsibility, like the provisions’ amendment of the Army Penal Code and the Judiciary Corps Code of the Armed Forces, the enactment of a new and modern framework regarding the Military Police Services of the Armed Forces and the Ships’ Entry into Ports Service and Ports’ Use during War, as well as the institution of rules, through the establishment of the National Navigation Army Authority, with regard to the air navigation of the Armed Forces’ aircraft.
First of all, an opportunity is presented for the first time regarding the legal support of the Armed Forces’ members and soldiers, by officials of the Legal Council of the State, during trials in criminal courts, for offences attributed to them during their tasks’ fulfillment. In addition, a measure regarding welfare is introduced, for the moral and mental support of those retiring from work and excluding themselves from the active military environment for health reasons, providing them the opportunity to remain in the Armed Forces, under certain conditions.
In response to the firm request of a large part of our personnel, we have established an essential regulation which, on one hand, provides for the Extended Service Volunteers career up to the rank of Second Lieutenant and the respective commission of First Lieutenant rank upon retirement and on the other hand, the possibility of remaining as Extended Service Volunteers up to the 58 years of age, thus securing the right for a full pension.
Another extremely beneficial provision is the one regarding reduced working hours for the members who have or care for a child or a 50% disabled person, suffering from diabetes and requiring insulin injections or suffering from type 1 diabetes.
Regarding the system of Armed Forces members’ transfers, special care is provided regarding families with three or more children, offering them the opportunity to choose the service location, ensuring, in any case, the Army’s interest, taking into account its needs, while the same applies to those who face health or disability problems, or suffer from diabetes themselves or have ailing family members, in the narrow sense of the word. I should not forget to mention that for the first time, there is a regulation regarding the cost reimbursement of not insured people, who are treated in military hospitals. At the same time, the establishment of Offices of Members’ Legal Protection is under enactment, in order to ensure a system of their full rights’ protection, combined with the already existing structures in the Armed Forces.
Regarding the recruitment legislation amendments, it is worth mentioning, on one hand, the extension of the advantage of the reduced military service to all families with three or more children, in the context of the protection of the family institution and the settlement of draft-evaders’ military obligations, so that those who left abroad will be motivated to return to their homeland and on the other hand, to conclude their recruitment’s pending matters.
Essential changes are also proposed for the conscientious objectors, in order to restore the principle of equality and isonomy between them and the conscripts. Specifically, the age limit is reduced regarding the buying out of alternative service, as well as the time that they will have to serve in this case. Furthermore, the duration of the alternative service remained the same, but there is a possibility of further reduction during their recruitment, through a Ministerial decision. Regarding the committee examining the relevant requests, I believe that it must remain as is, since it extends the examination of subordination to an examination of true conscience and not just a plain examination of supporting documents. However, provisions should be put in place regarding the number of the army officers participating in it.
Through this bill we provide for the Air Force Academy and the other Military Academies students, who face health problems during their attendance, so that their expulsion will not be implicit and without further legal procedure, but they will be provided with the opportunity to remain in the Armed Forces and be employed and utilised by the Army.
In no shape or form could our Ministry remain detached from the consequences of the 23-24 July 2018 catastrophic fires. For this reason, it suggests a legislative regulation regarding the residents of the afflicted areas and their exceptional inclusion in a particular percentage and in excess of the number of those admitted in military academies. In addition, the Military Academies were included for the first time in the system of students’ transfer, regarding brothers and sisters attending Universities in different cities.
Furthermore, integral chapters of legislative regulations are included in the bill, so that the military penal legislation is more functional and comprehensive, regarding the penal justice administration in the Armed Forces. A basic rule is the improvement of the penal justice administration system in the Armed Forces, in the context of a more inclusive use of its functional purpose, while at the same time effectively ensuring the Armed Forces members’ personal rights and freedoms.
In the next level, the suggested changes regarding the regulations of the Judiciary Corps Code of the Armed Forces will contribute in the restoration of the above described distortions, malfunctions and offences, in the field of the military penal law and the occupational status of the people who apply it and also in enabling the more effective function of the Supreme Judiciary Council, in the field of transitions with regard to military judges and to create a legal status multiplier, which will accelerate the adjustment of the military justice in the modern legal conditions which are characterised by a certain drive.
In addition, the Ministry responded to the need for enacting a new legal framework, which will uniformly regulate the mission and the responsibilities of the Military Police, the Navy Police and the Air Force Police and will include a series of provisions, regarding Armed Forces Military Police Services.
Finally, in the last part of the bill, regulations are included regarding, among other things, the issue of modern identity cards for the Armed Forces military personnel, the care regarding hazard and disability allowances paid to the members, the upgrade and harmonisation of the legislative provisions of the Army, Navy and Air Force Share Funds with the pensions’ legislation and provision for the exclusion of the National Defence Fund, the National Fleet Fund and the Air Defence Fund from the Income Tax and the Unified Property Ownership Tax”.
Address of the Minister of National Defence Mr Evangelos Apostolakis:
“After the presentation of the bill by the Alternate Minister Mr Rigas, whom we thank for this presentation and the clarifications, I would like to say that the bill is posted on “Diavgia” and is accessible to everyone. But before we conclude and start answering questions, I would like to say that the Ministry of National Defence has proven during the whole period of the financial crisis that its anthropocentric orientation remains steady and that it constantly sees, through suitable interventions, to the improvement of the occupational and working environment of the military and civilian personnel. It is not just about the real acknowledgement of the everyday and selfless contribution of its members and their families, but about an investment with regard to its manpower, in order to consolidate the sense of justice and reciprocation, to ensure the terms with regard to its steady, multilateral and ever-lasting participation in every social need, as well as to defend its original role, regarding the country’s national defence and security”.
Before I conclude, I myself would like to thank once more, all the Armed Forces’ personnel, all Staffs’ legal departments, my department and that of the Alternate Minister, for their flawless effort and serious work, in such a short time period. We have a lot of pending matters. You will see that the bill, as also stated by the Alternate Minister, progresses positively. Until now, we had not achieved such a concentrated effort in correcting things. This does not mean that problems were dealt with, it does not mean that we solved everything, but still, it is a very good and essential step towards the direction we mentioned earlier”.