Return of compulsory military service in Serbia (3): Either serve or pay ?!

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Military analyst Milan Galovic

The return of compulsory military service is a topic of particular interest to young people in the diaspora in order to avoid previously unpleasant situations, often ending in court rulings or the inability to come to the homeland.

Interlocutors of “Vesti” say that that is exactly why the future bill would have to take into account this category in much more detail than before.

– It is a rather complex issue because those citizens of Serbia who have dual citizenship, those who have a work permit and permanent residence, but also citizens who have not yet regulated it because they study or work illegally there, also live in the diaspora. According to previous regulations, the diaspora was not exempted from military service and reserve service, especially in the case of mobilization and there were various problems in this regard. One of the solutions is to resolve this issue with international agreements, as reached with the United States on the basis of the agreement from the 1950s, better known as “Alen-Kardelj”, not to act on extradition requests for these violations due to high costs – Trifunovic suggests.

On the other hand, “Politika” journalist Milan Galović says that benefits for young people in the diaspora would inevitably raise the issue of discrimination in relation to peers from Serbia.

– The fact is that many citizens who grew up in the diaspora refused to serve military service in the period when they were obliged to do so, which is why there were big problems that were eventually resolved by a general amnesty. But it is also a fact that there were many of them who returned to the country to serve in the army, even to serve voluntary military service in recent years. Therefore, this issue should be well considered and the rights and obligations of recruits in the diaspora should be specified, but so that the service of the army does not collapse. Maybe it would be good to study in detail the legal solutions from other countries, such as Greece or Turkey – says Galović.

And how is the issue of serving the army for the diaspora resolved in these countries? Goran Janićević has the answer:

– In Turkey, citizens from the diaspora pay 4,400 euros and have the obligation to undergo a one-month training, which can be practical or theoretical. The example of Greece, which releases its citizens from the diaspora from military obligations, is also impressive if they have a registered permanent place of residence in a foreign country or have a work permit and a permanent job abroad for more than seven years. Until the age of 45, Greeks who live in the diaspora and have not served their military service are limited to staying in their homeland for six months, which I believe is not a difficulty for most people.

He believes that the issue of the model of compulsory military service for the diaspora will be the biggest challenge for the state.

– In the earlier period, it was not resolved in the best way and that is why we had many unpleasant situations. That is why state bodies should cooperate. If someone decides to leave Serbia and look for happiness in life elsewhere, he should not be punished by some bureaucratic decision and is afraid of visiting his homeland – points out Janićević.

Misdemeanor penalties

Djordje Trifunovic, who was the president of the Military Court in Belgrade at the time of compulsory military service, points out that during the existence of military justice in the SFRY and FRY, about one third of all acts related to military service.

– Those who evaded this obligation were most often given suspended sentences, and in the repeated part, prison sentences. These procedures also included persons who abused their official position in the process of conscription and systematic examinations – Trifunovic points out and adds that there should be a distinction between avoiding conscription and avoiding conscription from fleeing soldiers during military service.

– The problem of not responding to conscription and military service can be solved with misdemeanor penalties, and fleeing should be treated as a crime. The possibility of not serving military service due to “conscientious objection” should be specially regulated, when it is justified, in which case the obligation to pay compensation in the value of state expenses for military service of one soldier can be established – Trifunovic suggests.

At least basic training

The President of the Assembly of the Club of Generals and Admirals of Serbia, retired Lieutenant General Milomir Miladinović says that the best solution would be for all able-bodied recruits from the diaspora to complete at least basic training:

– From that group, as before, certain categories would be excluded, such as doctoral students, breadwinners, temporarily employed abroad…

Tomorrow – Return of compulsory military service in Serbia (4):

Source: Vesti online by

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