conscriptionOn Sunday, Austrians voted in a national referendum on whether or not their country should scrap the draft. Around 60 percent voted in favour of keeping compulsory military service, meaning Austria will remain one of the few European countries to maintain conscription.

Apart from Austria, other European countries to retain mandatory military service include Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Norway, Switzerland, Moldova, Turkey and Estonia. Over the last decade, however, many European countries have abolished national service, including Bulgaria, Croatia and Lithuania in 2008, Poland in 2009 and Germany in 2011.

Supporters of national conscription argue that it instills discipline and a sense of national pride in young people. Critics, however, argue that it is unethical to force young people to fight in wars they may not support (though alternative national service is usually available where countries still employ conscription), and that the draft is anyway outdated in a world where mass mobilisation is unlikely and, increasingly, air power, cyberwarfare and small groups of special forces engaged in counter-terrorism operations are becoming the norm.

What do YOU think? Does conscription help instill discipline and give young people a stronger sense of national identity? Or is it unethical and outdated? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Leo Reynolds

95 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Nikolai Holmov

    Completely irrelevant what I think.

    Austria held a referendum (that democracy thing) and the result was the result. A national decision made by the majority who took part in a referendum – in short a democratic decision taken by the citizenry and that alone should be supported regardless of result.

    Ukraine is suppose to get rid of conscription in 2013 and move to voluntary contract military with the effect of slashing military numbers by 50%. One cannot help but think the underlaying reason in the case of Ukraine is economic but nevertheless, that is what is going to happen if you believe what has been said.

    Conscription is a matter for the sovereign national government and its people, not a matter for the EU (yet, if ever).

    At a moment in history when military numbers are far less significant than military technology, the chances of military invasion of an EU nation exceptionally low, and any military projection from EU nations is either unilateral or under the auspices of NATO intervention or UN Peace-keeping – aside from an occasional training effort as some form of “aid” – there is cause to doubt the necessity of conscription in most nations. However in some, without conscription they would be no military at all.

    One cap cannot and will not fit all.

    • avatar

      yeah, the majority. the majority should not have a say against my human rights. what a wonderful democracy where some old people with ww2 in their minds and women (who are not affected by this law) gets to decide what you should do!

    • avatar

      agree with u, Dan.
      Sometimes democracy fail, like in the instance of Austria. There are many factors such as beliefs ingrained by constant propaganda (perhaps government controlled media, lack of discussion, or even fear of uncertainty of change) to not having a personal risk when one vote for it (ie don’t who don’t have to serve- the elderly and females- who might even stand to lose in the form of increased taxation for them to support paying a professional army)

      The best way to phrase the vote is “To all voters, irregardless age or gender: Please vote if you want to enact the following law to make conscription mandatory for every citizen starting next Monday”

      I bet my life it will be at least 50% against it

    • avatar
      Jan Rygard

      Good point Dan and Jason.
      This also emphasizes the hipocracy in the new norm “gender-equality”. If such an archaic and sexist institution was to the detriment of woman, we men would have been seen as bastards without any sence of gallancy, chivalry or fairness, being accused of being oppressors of woman, if we in the name of democracy would have voted to maintain such an institution at no cost for ourselves, but for many woman, who are quick on the trigger to pull the equality-card, they have no problems having no gallancy, chivalry or fairness the other way around towards us.
      This is the main-reason I am sick and tired of this overall debate of genderroles and manners of conduct built in our culture : There is no reciprocity of things like gallancy, chivalry or fairness in the cultural mindset and the relationship between men and woman, when do anyone hear any demands that woman should bring any sacrifices or give up any unfair priviledges for the sake of men (in cases like the drafting- and the family- and divorce-court system or archaic codes of daily conduct of behaviour biased mostly or one-sidedly in their favour) ?. We never hear any feminist point out the unfair bias in this matter, this is probably the biggest bigotry and hipocracy in our time taking place in circumstances where most would claim we live in an enlightened democracy emphasizing fairness and equality for every one, which shows that not only womankind can be victims of cultural oppression, and therefore should hold no monopoly in plaing the victim-card.

  2. avatar
    Maro Kouris

    Military Conscription is a human right violation, since it violates individual rights and is slave labor. Military Conscription in reality represents slavery and involuntary servitude .Of all the statist violations of individual rights in a mixed economy, the military draft is the worst. It is an abrogation of rights. It negates man?s fundamental right?the right to life?and establishes the fundamental principle of statism: that a man?s life belongs to the state, and the state may claim it by compelling him to sacrifice it in battle The countries that make up the European Union need to merge all their forces and create a single EU military force that is entirely voluntary and professional force. The numbers shouldn’t be too difficult to fill given the fact that their is 15 million unemployed youth throughout the European Union. The European Union needs its own professional military force NOW.

    • avatar

      Yes first class comment

    • avatar

      Great idea. Two thumbs up.

    • avatar
      Aine Canpolat

      Not only is it a violation on one’s self, it is a very unsettling time on the family left behind. It is feudal and had a note of fachism, dictatershipism, not giving the individual the benefit of having any grey matter.

  3. avatar
    Richard W. Jacquard

    Happily Austria have embraced direct democracy on this social issue and the people have spoken in that state on it. Personally and politically I see no point in forcing people (men) into the military if its not what they want to do. A case can certainly be made for it in times of total war. But we are Thank God not living in the end times. Civic duty is however, important, and I am in favour of what the Germans call ‘civildienst’ or civic service. There is a movement growing in Britain for such, backed by both parties of government. Civic service is teenagers and (extendible to those on training program’s or university in their early twenties, or NEET’s for that matter) in exchange for the care society had provided them and shall continue to in their adult lives, giving time, a few hours a week to charities, social enterprises and necessary causes in their community. They can be small neighbourhood projects, charity directed work (befriending etc) or institutional program’s like D of E or such organised group events.

    • avatar
      Jan Rygard

      Wrong, it is the state that is supposed to serve its citizens, not the other way around. If futhermore such an institution is sexist and arbitrary as well, it has no legitimacy in an enlightened democracy.

  4. avatar
    Richard W. Jacquard

    @Maro I totally agree that we need a common defends policy and thereby a pooling off litany resources. However, first we must address the economic issues plaguing Europe and all it’s states, second such a move can only occur in a diluted form or not at all prior to federation. That needs to be handled very carefully, and though inspiring and the right thing to do, democracy is and must continue to be our watch word. Regarding youth subscription to the military. The military required a certain type if person like any other job. So anyone unemployed or employed for that matter should be free to apply, but as you have indicated there would be a lot of people either opposed to conscription and/or unwilling to apply to the army.

  5. avatar
    Richard W. Jacquard

    Antonis Koutsoumbos As an ardent opponent of direct democracy and and an equally ardent supporter of a common defence policy: a) Do you believe subscription should be decided at a European level or a state level? b) I’m interested to see what your thoughts in this whole matter are.

  6. avatar
    Maro Kouris

    @Richard, A common and professional EU Defense Force would get away with unnecessary duplication , utilising scarce financial , military hardware and human resources in the most productive and efficient way. The Rich northern Europeans need to stop hiding behind Euro-sceptism and assist the Southern EU member states in protecting the European Union’s borders from illegal immigrants flooding into the European Union as well as deal with the Turkish Rogue state that is occupying a EU member state- Cyprus , with Turkey creating unnecessary tension on Greece with a number of issues in the Aegean , with the tacit support of the British governing establishment since 1974.

    • avatar
      Marek Soupizon

      It may have been an unnecessary tension but I invite you to be real about what took place in Cyprus. You are ignoring the initial part of the story and focusing on the outcome. The entire issue was caused by Greek Cypriots who removed rights of Turkish Cypriots from the constitution and started massacring them in a coup attempt to push them off of the island to mainland Turkey and unite the island with mainland Greece. Turkey only invaded 1/3 of the island which corresponds to its Turkish population to protect its people and provide safe haven. It was Turkey’s right as one of the three guarantor states (UK, Greece, Turkey) to intervene under such circumstances.

      Greeks started the unnecessary tension. If you expected Turkey to watch its people get massacred nextdoor and not do anything, you had unrealistic expectations. Any and every nation would have done the same or more under the circumstances. You need to stop acting like Greeks were innocent, living peacefully, and it happened for no reason. Only then you can make proper diagnosis and reach a solution. You are living in denial.

      Same issue is going on in the Aegean, you are trying to turn it into a Greek sea just like you tried to turn Cyprus into a Greek island. You are experts at starting it all and then blaming the other side when they respond to your actions.

    • avatar
      Christos Mouzeviris

      I won’t enter into a debate on the facts you presented, because it will take us a long time and the topic is not about Cyprus. Perhaps Debating Europe can make a special topic on Cyprus and then we can discuss it..

      I will accept the facts you mentioned as real… But even so, if we accept the fact that Turkey was right to invade Cyprus, they should have invaded, stopped whatever was going on and then leave it to the UN to control the situation or sanction the Greek Cypriots and solve the problem…

      The continuous illegal occupation of the island of Cyprus by Turkey is exactly that: illegal.. No nation in the UN has recognized the statelet that Turkey has created and that must ring some bells to some people.

      Turkey showed its true colors and intentions for Cyprus and the occupation recently, when Israel and Cyprus started cooperating in the extraction of the vast amount of natural gas under the island..

      That is why the Turks invaded Cyprus and not because of all the other claptrap they claim. The island has a great geopolitical and strategic location with vast resources. And that is that.

      Also we can thank the British who incited the hatred between the two communities while the colonized the island. Whenever there was trouble in the Greek Cypriot community, they used Turkish Cypriot police officers to beat up the rebels. And vice versa they did for the uprisings in the Turkish Cypriot community.

      That lead to deeper divisions between the two communities that led to inter-ethnic violence. And then the invasion followed.

      If we want the Cypriot problem ever to be resolved, Turkey must withdraw its troops from the island and recognize the Republic of Cyprus… And we will take it from there…

      The Greek Cypriots want to negotiate just with the Turkish Cypriot side, not Turkey itself that they see as an occupier. Perhaps we should leave them to it. And since Cyprus is in the EU, the EU will definitely monitor the situation to make sure that such violence never erupts again.

    • avatar
      Marek Soupizon

      I’d just like to add this:

      The 2004 Annan Plan was a United Nations proposal to resolve the Cyprus dispute. The proposal suggested to restructure the Republic of Cyprus as a “United Republic of Cyprus”, which would be a federation of two states. It was revised a number of times before being put to the people of Cyprus in a referendum. Greek Cypriots rejected the proposal by 76%, while 65% of the Turkish Cypriots accepted it.

      After this internationally supported attempt got rejected by Greek Cypriots, the entire world saw that Greeks are indeed the side opposing a fair and acceptable solution to the issue and even EU stated that they need to start relations with Northern Cyprus as a result. Greek Cypriots want to dictate their own solution to everyone, in which they carry similar ideas of turning Cyprus into a Greek island.

      The usual hypocrisy and double standards are in play.

    • avatar
      Christos Mouzeviris

      It is hard to convince people who lost loved ones and their homes, to accept that their former land and properties won’t necessarily be returned to them or get any compensation.. Not to mention the human trauma and drama or losing your loved ones.. In these cases, populism prevails. History will judge the actions of the Greek Cypriot leadership and its decision to encourage their people to vote down the plan… According to them it was unfair and favored the Turkish side… So the Greek Cypriots voted what their leader encouraged to do…

  7. avatar
    Maro Kouris

    TURKEY IS A ROGUE STATE. Turkey is responsible for the collosal Greek debt that the Germans and North European Creditors are moaning about. Turkey has the Oraj plan- which targets creating unnecessary tension on Greece , dated February. EU political, economic and military sanction’s on Turkey NOW.

    • avatar
      Marek Soupizon

      Greeks have, throughout history, attempted to blame others for your failures. You blame Germany as well but you really need to get real and face the facts. Truth is that you have a corrupt government. Truth is that you do not produce, you just rely on tourism and consume. Truth is that you have been living far beyond your means for years. Greece has cheated its way into Euro by playing numbers. Greece has been a leech living off of European taxpayers, and it was bound to come to an end. You can NOT blame others for your mistakes, Europeans will only laugh at your ridiculous claims. Turkey never uses Greece for internal politics, Greece lives in the past and still absurdly sees Turkey as a threat and uses it in internal politics especially before elections. Turkey is a regional power, it’s far larger than Greece with a much higher population. The military power ratio between Russia-Turkey exists in the same fashion between Turkey-Greece. Trying to keep up with Turkey is pointless, especially when Turkey does not have the slightest interest on Greek soil except in the minds of some seriously confused Greeks. Reality is the other way around, Greeks have interest in Turkish soil but they can’t do anything because it’s a hopeless case in today’s reality. Please do not use this forum to post your racist propaganda, it is not the right place.

    • avatar
      Christos Mouzeviris

      Maro does not represent the whole Greek nation and you are in the wrong to blame or insult the whole Greek nation for the opinions of one… I am Greek and I am for Turkey’s EU membership. And I am not the only one..

      The Greek public opinion is as divided as any other country in the EU about the matter, some are for some against. There are plenty of Greeks that want to see Turkey in the EU, for many varied reasons.

      Many of course support it for Greece’s benefit and interests. If Turkey joins the EU and come under the control or scrutiny of other European powers, it won’t be able to continue with its policies against Cyprus and Greece..

      I won’t enter to the procedure of answering the nonsense you posted above, I presume they were a reaction to Maro’s nonsense about Turkey and what the EU should do to the country.

      Maro does not represent the majority of the Greek public opinion, and you should not be quick to make this thread another Greece vs Turkey topic… So give it a rest.

  8. avatar
    Debating Europe

    Hi, Maro. Please stay on-topic; this is a post about conscription in Europe, not Turkey. We will be discussing the issue of Turkey in a future post.

  9. avatar
    Ville Kuoppamäki

    The way in which this question is framed reflects the large differences in European nations’ geopolitical situations. Finland is not a member of any military alliance and has an extremely large national territory compared to the size of its population. In this country, rather than being a symbolic/normative question (National pride vs. serving in impopular wars) mass conscription is generally considered a matter of national survival and enjoys extremely strong popular support. The Finnish debate concerning the necessity of conscription is concentrated on the military-technical and economic advantages and disadvantages of a conscription-based military. The Finnish political establishment and public generally agree that the large number of soldiers that conscription provides is essential for defending the entire Finnish territory.

    In contrast to most European nations, Finland does not have the luxury to assume (correctly or incorrectly) that its neighbor Russia will not again become a conventional military opponent in the future. Short-sighted European analysis on the future likelihood of large-scale war has been proven wrong before: One should recall the utopian and pacifist opinions sweeping over Europe in the 1920’s. Despite the successful inter-European integration, the EU still remains an entity with external borders.The potential consequences of poor judgement in this matter are very different for ie. Estonia, Poland and Portugal.

  10. avatar

    The reasons why Austrians overwhelmingly (60%) voted for keeping conscription are many, domestic and external.
    With the latter EU policies play a significant role. Large parts of Austrian population have increasing doubts in the EU as a peace project. For example, EU immigration and asylum policy is widely seen as illigitimate and neglecting, if not hostile towards indiginous European populations. Increasing crime rates are also linked with the EU. About 70 per cent of prison inmates in Austrian are “foreigners”. As most immigrants head to Vienna, this capital will be an alien place inside Austria in a few decades. Then, there is the perceived inability of the EU to establish an unexploitative financial regime, where everybody is responsible for its own budget. It is not considered unlikely that this could lead to violent conflicts inside Europe, conflicts which could only be prevented from splashing over into Austria by a considerable conscription army.
    Additionally, the Army in the eyes of a majority has coped perfectly with all critical security situations (Hungarian uprising 1956, Czechoslovak crisis 1968, Yugoslav secession wars 1990s) since its establishment in 1955. Besides this the army is a reliably help in all kinds of natuaral desasters (flooding, avalches etc.).
    Austria is also a neutral country with Switzerland as model and there are no signs that the population is willing to abandon this status. Actually, together with Switzerland Austria performs important security functions in the very core of Europe, with keeping a reformed conscription system now even more.
    As I said, the reasons for this decision about keeping conscription, which might appear for some as anachronsitic are many. EU related are certainly those I have mentioned above.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      I agree with Bastian.

      And please can the EU explain why they feel they have a right to question the direct democracy of a state at all? It is the single most democratic principle to ask a people what they consider right for their country or state. To question that suggests a disdain for the right of a nation to decide for themselves.

      Of course I understand the drive to ask the rest of the union how they feel as individuals on this subject, but, the best way to find that out is to be as open as the Austrians and give all states a referendum on the issue.

      Austrians are a very fortunate people to be kept in the loop this way and to be taken into account.

      And as a footnote, 80% of British prison inmates presently are foreign born, whom, because of faulty human rights decisions, we are unable to deport. I see that as a deliberate move toward genocide of the indiginous peoples of this United Europe. First by the birth rate of foreign born individuals and no proper checks on immigration from outside the union and by the attack on our culture and way of life by forcing unacceptable social expectations on the host state by those people who have no affinity toward its civilisation. It is an infringement of our juman rights as a people. Genocide is unacceptable as a method of social engineering by any government.

  11. avatar
    Rúben Lopes-Pereira

    If there was an ” European Army”, in what language would they speak?
    Can you imagine a german and a french, fighting side by side?

    • avatar
      Ville Kuoppamäki

      This is not difficult to imagine. They would probably do it just as they have for the past 60 years through NATO, the Eurocorps unit, the EU battle groups etc. German and French troops are fighting the same war right now, in Afghanistan. I imagine they communicate in English, the standard NATO language.

  12. avatar
    Zoltán Jenei

    n a seregben nem csak a fegyelmet tanultam hanem a gazembersget is hogy lehet a ktelez elirsokat megkerlni vagy nem megteni azt amit nem akarok s ezt 24 honapig gyakoroltam ma sem kellemes az emlke mit krdez a katona ha paracsba adjk hogy fesse be az eget : milyen szinre?

  13. avatar
    Julia Hahn

    I am Austrian and I refused to vote yesterday because what took place was NO REFERENDUM, but a non-binding poll. We were neither really given the opportunity to decide on whether or not we want to maintain conscription or not, nor were we informed how a reform of the current system would look like, or which impacts a professional army would have on our defence policy. Political parties did not debate the military aspect of this decision, they only referred to our system of “community service instead of military service”. It is indeed sad that so many Austrians, namely more than 50% of all persons entitled to vote, actually thought that they were taken seriously here. This was just some joke in the election campaign, a harm to our system of direct democracy. Every citizen who appreciates democracy should have chosen “the punishing vote”, this is to say, blank vote, nullifying the vote or not to vote.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      You should remember that, ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it.’

      Any form of direct democracy is better than an absence of any right to discuss and select, they way the British have no rights whatsoever on any matter in question.

      Our second Chamber or House of Lords is unelected, it is an appointed body we have no part in. Our House of Commons is likewise selected for us to go along with on party lines, the result, in the event of their electoral win, then completely disregards the manifesto promises they offered us a vote on. Add to that an unelected dynastic head of state and what do you have that you can call a democracy? Which is why our voting turn out is almost non existent. If we had a 60% turn out at a general election we would feel we had died and gone to heaven, ours runs around 30%.

  14. avatar
    Sadettin Arslantaş

    we have a saying, you can no military girls do not! :)bizde bir laf vard?r; askerlik yapamayana k?z vermeyiz !! :)

  15. avatar

    When ever the issue of National Service (Conscription) is raised in the UK it’s almost always for the wrong reasons and the Armed Forces are in the vast majority against it. Typically people favour it as a way of ‘sorting out’ delinquents and stopping youths from menacing little old ladies outside the corner shops. And one thing is sure, the general public does not like it one bit when young conscripted national service kids start getting killed. Seeing volunteers die is bad enough but when conscripts get killed the general public is even quicker to turn against conflict (see the Korean War).

    A professional, highly trained and well equipped military does not want to play the role of social service of last resort for the state. It’s a ridiculous waste of resources and it’s not it’s job. That said, it’s a sovereign choice and should be considered none of the EU’s business. The only time I could conceive of this being within the EU’s remit is if countries were providing troops to EU missions, the EU should be able to insist on volunteer professionals only and rule on conscripts in any of its missions.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      @Ignorant Jack:

      What are you talking about? When this comes up for debate? To whom by whom? the public in the UK has no consultation or direct democracy anywhere close to that of some European states akin to Austria.

      We are completely out of the loop and a farce is then used as a line in the newspapers telling us what we think. And that think is the think our government want us to have by telling us that is what we have.

      Pleeeeeese give me a break!

      This is what we have.

      Or, this!

      The great British democracy in action.

    • avatar

      “To whom by whom?”
      Anyone who says ‘I think we should bring back national service’, that’s usually how these debates start Catherine. It’s this funny thing that happens in civil society, student seminars, down the pub or even on internet debating websites!

      Please, please, please stop attributing things to me so you can get fake-angry, it’s boooooring. We’re not talking about the British democratic system and I didn’t mention it.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      Ah, but you did, and don’t pretend you didn’t realise it.

      And if you find my posts boring don’t read them.

      You are not boring simply ludicrous. And a definite plant of some party or other with a mission akin to the UKIP visitors we have here.

      Social media as a way of knowing the British public is humorous in the extreme. How many of those who write their tweets and facebook expose’s vote? Do you have any idea?

      And pubs? When was the last time you were in the UK? They are closing by the day. Unless it’s London you are trying to persuade us is mainstay of the voting public. As a huge percentage of Londoners are foreign born, it will be along time before you can judge that City as the British thought team.

      What you don’t like is exposure of your nonsense hence the irritation. Running for office are we?

    • avatar

      I really have no idea what you’re banging on about. Whatever it is, it’s off topic.

      “And a definite plant of some party or other with a mission akin to the UKIP visitors we have here.”
      Damn, you caught me, yes of course, it all makes sense now I’m clearly being paid to comment on here, why else would anyone waste their time disagreeing with you (over what precisely we disagree over in this thread that’s in any way on topic I’m yet to find out).

      “How many of those who write their tweets and facebook expose’s vote? Do you have any idea?”
      The same as any other arbitrarily contrived demographic I’d imagine.

      “And pubs? When was the last time you were in the UK? They are closing by the day.”
      So there’s no pubs left? I’ve only been gone a year, that seems a little drastic. Well presumably people can see chat in HMV whilst they browse for music…

  16. avatar
    Jokera Jokerov

    Nope, it depends on the countries, not on EU. The Austrians decided to keep it, it`s their right.
    And it is not a violation of human rights more than the obligation to pay taxes or to obey the law of the land.

  17. avatar

    I am agreed with the obligatory conscription. I have been to Cyprus as a Greek soldier and i would like to mention that it was the best experience of my life. Young people should not be afraid of military issues. In my opinion, 6 months of army training after graduating from school ,would be a good training for the body and mainly for the mind of every young person. If i had the chance, i would have joined again.

  18. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    of course it is… I did my 18 month service in Greece… What a waste of time!! I have learned nothing and I was just hovering from camp to camp being forced to conform to any idiotic uneducated officer, a time that I could be studying or learning a new language! All my female friends of the same age could go and finish a course, get a degree learn a language, while I had to waste 18 months of my life… This is discriminatory of course but no one mentions it. In the old times, the army offered opportunities to young men of poor background. A great school they would call it.. And perhaps back then it was.. Poor young men with no chance of education or opportunities found a way to leave home and travel in other parts of the country and open their minds, learn new skills.. Now these opportunities come with education and traveling in other countries so the opportunities that the army was offering do not exist anymore.. Now an army should be voluntary.. Not everyone is made to be a soldier and why force people with bright brains to waste their time, when the army is made for different kind of people… Only those who chose to follow it as a profession should be able to do so.. The rest of us we should be encouraged to serve our country and our communities in other ways… With education, civil service, politics and the lot… Europe should form a common defense policy and part of it should be the abolition of conscription in all EU states.. If Europe forms a highly skilled, equipped and advanced army to help or implement the national armies, then no EU state will have the threat of any attack so a large army won’t be necessary. Thus no need for conscription… Amen!!

    • avatar
      Jan Rygard

      Spot on, conscription is an archaic and sexist institution from darker ages, only appealing to the usual romantic and nostalgic backward-thinkers, who can only support their arguments on reasons of sentiment, and besides, when do we hear any cries about discrimination mentioned here when it is mankind who is discriminated to womankind ?, I can imagine how much running the streets there would have been long ago if there was such archaic laws discriminating on womankind, of course gender-equality must be a mutual beneficial cause benefitting both genders, anything else is hypocritical doublestandards.

  19. avatar
    Gianuario Cioffi

    When in Italy there was the conscription, lots of people were arrested and brought to jail because they didn’t want to do military service ; also people who professed Christian evangelical religion that forbids military service was arrested

    • avatar

      And now you have a socially and regionally very imbalanced volunteer army. Italy is now defended mainly by soldiers originating south of Rome.
      One argument in the Austrian referendum was that people don’t want a mercenary army.

  20. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    this used to be the case in the Greek army too.. If you got an army driving license it was valid in your civilian life too.. not anymore… so what if I was taught how to drive? It was not good to me in my life later… And 18 months out of my life just to learn how to drive? Hello? do the maths!!! ;o)

    • avatar

      This is a widespread problem amongst many military’s as far as I can tell, the lack of emphasis on transferable skills. And I’m not just talking about the ordinary infantryman but people who are doing things that really should be transferable. I was an Operator Mechanic (Warfare) in the RN and the main part of my role was radar operator tracking air and surface contacts, but none of that was apparently even remotely transferable to civvie street. I reckon this is because the Armed Forces doesn’t want you to get recognised qualifications so you can’t be ‘poached’ (not much chance of that in my case!). Even our Air Traffic Control Officer wouldn’t be able to land (pun intended!) a civilian Air Traffic Control job apparently. They always talk about trying to slowly change that but then I bet they always say that.

  21. avatar
    Maro Kouris

    In this day and age , in our advanced European civilisation, which is based on meritocracy and human rights, Conscription in the Military is SLAVE LABOR. No to free work. PAY UP.

    • avatar
      Jan Rygard

      Agree with You

  22. avatar
    Jokera Jokerov

    Well, they might pay you sth like 2 euro per day. If you are unemployed, that still is sth and they feed you, and they give you accomodation if you are homeless… :)

  23. avatar
    Hasan Özdemir

    ? dissent a conscription in the military actually and the thoughts which as stated above of Christos is so right for military in my opinion.Meanwhile a conscription has three basic and positive influences for Turkey. Firstly it ensures a equality for men.Secondly it covers partly unemployment as temporary and new friendships occurs against traditional relatives. Thirdly per male person finds a occasion to visit other regions of Country too and of course if he does not know, the military studies to read or to write or to drive or sometimes to learn to Turkish.

  24. avatar
    Maro Kouris

    If they want people in the military, pay up like they do in the United States. 41,600 euro’s annual pay as a starting point for a EU soldier is a fair ammount- 800 euros a week, 20 euros an hour for a 40 hour working week. That is a fair starting point for the professional EU Soldier. The Taxpayers of the EU must PAY UP for the Defense of the European Union. NO to SLAVE LABOUR in the European Union. Military conscription in our advanced and sophisticated European democracy’s is a CRIME against Humanity. Now for a 1 million man EU military force – annual personnell costs would ammount to 80 billion Euros.-It works out to about 200 euros in tax for every EU citizen every year, to maintain peace and security for all the European Union. Then say add another 100 billion for EU military defense research and hardware. – it works out to 450 euros tax per EU citizen to Defend and Protect the European Union from all external threats. NO to SLAVE LABOR Conscription anywhere within the EU. YES to a million man professional EU Defense force.

    • avatar

      I do not want to defend the EU or fight for it. In my ultimate fantasy scenario I would become a guerilla against the undemocratic Eurosoviet Union supporting the forces that might one day come to liberate us and restore our democracies and put Barroso and Rompuy on trial for treason against democracy.

  25. avatar

    There’s quite a few people on here, particularly Greeks who are both for and against. I’d be interested to know what effect you think conscription has on the quality of the Armed Forces that have carry it out? There’s the economic considerations of course, having to train, feed, house and clothe all these extra soldiers. And then there is the effect that having soldiers in the ranks who view their service as time wasted, more like a prison sentence than serving their country.

    I just can’t see this as anything other than damaging.

    • avatar
      Christos Mouzeviris

      Well in my opinion the quality of an army has nothing to do with conscription. The Greek army has some very good units but they are not comprised from conscripted civilian men like me.. Only volunteers join these units and they are dedicated to their cause simply because they love what they are doing… I could never be a good soldier simply because my nature is not compatible to that of a soldier… If an army was comprised only by conscripted men like me then I would guess it would be the crappiest battalion ever.. But of course it is not.. The Greek (and any other army) is comprised by many types of battalions, with different training and expertise or weaponry… The conscripted soldiers are there simply because they have a duty, simply because they have to do what they are doing.. But we were not given the training that the other guys were given…. We were just soldiers, and if a war broke out during my service I would just be like a sheep sent to the slaughter… I would be sent to the front line, to do my best and keep my position as long as I could… Unless I could magically evoke my ancestor’s charisma and bring out the Leonidas out of me, I guess it would not be that long… Never say never though!!! You never know how one will react in dire situations!! Hahaha!!

    • avatar

      True I guess all armies would differentiate, I know the UK did between it’s volunteers and national service. I just wonder that the money spent on conscripts is essentially a waste of resources. As for what you were saying about being sent to the front lines as a conscript it kind of reminded me of what my stepdad (former Admin staff on RAF squadrons) said “If someone in my branch was being sent into the trenches with a rifle and expected to fight then we’ve already lost” :)

    • avatar
      Christos Mouzeviris

      Well in most cases yes, it is…. Unless there is a natural disaster in the country, like the fires in Greece a few years ago, and the conscripts were used as fire fighters to help the civilians and put out the fires…. Then they come to some use…

    • avatar
      Jan Rygard

      Spot on, I would have felt it like a prison sentence, being punished just for being born as a boy.

  26. avatar
    Ankit Khandelwal

    It can be given on the choice, if someone does not want to join Military, he might be given chance to serve the community for the same amount of time. The purpose of national identity can be built in many different ways, not necessary only through military conscription.

    • avatar
      Jan Rygard

      Then this burden of service should also include unfit men and the woman, otherwise it is discriminating and arbitrary, which breeds a feeling that the system is unjust

  27. avatar
    Maro Kouris

    As former French President Franois Mitterrand once said- ?Nationalism is war.? This is why The European Union needs a EU Defense Force- to build a cosmopolitan European Spirit and Solidarity amongst all Europeans.

    • avatar

      If your solidarity is defined as that I give money to you, I want no part of it.

      No Eurosoviet army, ever. The concept must be blocked every step of the way.

      Mitterrand by the way was corrupt who wanted Germany to pay for French pensions.

  28. avatar
    Jovan Ivosevic

    Oh yeah, centuries of perpetual war and conflict punctured with a couple of years here and there competing for the continent’s resources. nationalism is wonderful, it’s last great hurrah being the 1940s. It sounds like a great plan to give that ideology free reign in the era of modern weapons and nuclear explosives.

    • avatar

      If the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were anything, they were most definately not nationalistic. They routinely violated other nations borders. A real nationalist would never do that.

      In fact, the Soviet Union was and Nazi Germany planned to be supranational unions who wanted to overrule or even abolish national demcoracy. Kind of like the EU, except for the terror bit of course.

  29. avatar
    Jokera Jokerov

    Nationalism is in the last 2 centuries, Jovane. Do you really consider the wars among the Ancient greek polices as nationalist wars?

  30. avatar
    Maro Kouris

    @Jokera, the causes of war between the ancient Greek city states are similar to that of modern nationalism. Nothing has changed in over 2300 years. This is why a Federal European Union is the best medicine to this nationalism malignant that has plagued Europe with devastating effect over the past 100 years. PEACE and PROSPERITY for all Europeans is guarranteed, within a FEDERAL European Union.

    • avatar

      Prosperity? With the Euro? Is that supposed to be a joke? Or did you mean prosperity for rich bankers and corporats, and neo-feudalism for the ‘serfs’ like me?

  31. avatar
    Hasan Özdemir

    A true form is the most important step to ensure peace and prosperity but a true substance needs to save and to go on firstly for Europe. After a new form will be able to create inherently. ?f you have not got a true substance to manage, only a form might be too jeopardy like the crusades.

  32. avatar
    Maro Kouris

    The European Union needs a EU Defense Force with codified military systems outlining RESPONSES, RULES, and METHODS of engagement against hostile non-EU military forces. The will guarantee the peace for all Europeans within the European Union. First mission of the EU Defense Force would be to THROW OUT all occupying the entire occupying Turkish military force from EU member Cyprus, if EU sanctions on Turkey do not move Turkish authorities to withdraw Turkish military forces from their occupation of EU member Cyprus. And if Britain leaves the EU in 2017-18, expel the British military from Cyprus as well. It is accepted by diplomatic sources that British policy towards western European integration from mid-1950 to the present was remarkably consistent, The preservation and defense of Britain’s status as a world power was incompatible with membership of a supranational European community. That is why Britain has consistently been opposed to deeper European Intergration and a EU Defense Force. Lay the RED CARPET as the French say, and show the British establishment the exit EU DOOR. Britain with Turkey are both the causes of the Debt crises in Greece and Cyprus., that is affecting the Euro and the Eurozone.

  33. avatar
    Hasan Özdemir

    Can any likeminded people use that words which consistent and unborn Europe federalism and Tito schizophrenia and malignant nationalism and Cyprus or Greece are always right on every subject exactly but Turkey and Britain are always unjust etc. all together ? Was Milosevic a socialist like Hitler really ?

  34. avatar
    catherine benning

    Come to think of it, as we have this equality lunacy, I have to say I emphatically do not believe in conscription. The horror of army life does not appeal to me on any level.

  35. avatar
    Vladimir Krastev

    Nowdays modern warfare relies mostly on technology. Conscription is not a factor anymore. You can easily see the results of the conventional warfare in Iraq – massive conscription army against 21st century compact hi-tech force. Saddly only a few states can afford such technology. It is not a matter of fiscal resources, but a matter of private, secret corporate interests of modern armament. The human factor is almost irrelevant.

  36. avatar

    It surprises me how little the issue of sex discrimination is mentioned in relation to this issue. Can you imagine the reaction if anyone proposed a period of compulsory national service, whether military or not, for women only? It seems that often sex discrimination is only noticed when it is to the detriment of women. It is time men were better at speaking up about issues of this sort.

    Also, doesn’t the list of countries that retain this (including Denmark and Norway) rather undermine the Scandinavians’ much vaunted egalitarian credentials? I wish I had more ideas about how to help men in those countries get this anachronism abolished. I have grown up in the UK able to take for granted that I would never have to do such a thing (it was abolished here back in the 1950s). I guess resistance to it needs to come first from men in the countries concerned, but I’d like to see EU institutions at least declare a position against even if it is beyond their competence to intervene.

    • avatar
      Jan Rygard

      Spot on, I personally too have long ago been tired of this hypocracy regarding that only sexist laws to the detriment of womankind is considered a problem, and You are rigtht, many of the scandinavian countries (except from Sweden) are some of the most backward-thinking countries in EU regarding this archaic thing called conscription, fortunately in Denmark today we have a virtually all volounteer army, that was about time, we live in the 21’st century.

  37. avatar

    I have to second what Owen has said about sex discrimination.

    Imagine the furore if an EU country required young women to attend 6-24 months of homemaking, childrearing and domestic duties training. It would be savaged as misogynistic and demeaning. Military conscription for males only, when women have to commit to no form of national service, is equally misandrist.

    • avatar
      Jan Rygard

      Spot on, I am also tired about this cause of gender-equality is only benefitting woman, such is the opposite of gender-equality.

  38. avatar
    Anthony Inger

    I would like to reply to Maro Kouris about Greece. The people of Great Britain are not in the slightest way responsible for the debts run up by Greece or any other nation. Great Britain should not be responsible for any other countries debts.

  39. avatar

    Even i am surprised how few people saw the male discrimination in conscription,and it’s also sad how little an individual’s rights came into discussion. Everyone is talking about the quality of the military and other big things but never about how a man should be able to decide what’s good for him. The state doesn’t own its people. Also “IF” there’s conscription it must be universal. If women can take part in referendums to decide about conscription they should also get conscripted. But i am completely against conscription(men or women). Also it’s families, schools, and religious institutions that are suppose to make good people not military.
    And why do people think only men needs to be good citizens???”IF”military has such benefits to an individual why shouldn’t women too have it???

    • avatar
      Jan Rygard

      Spot on, You point out in any way all the hypocracy behind as well all the empty clap-trap phrases that is the only arguments being brought on every time the usual backward-thinking romantics tries to impose us such sexist and archaic reminiscent from darker ages for their sentiment reasons, as well as once again we see that only sexist laws to the detriment of womankind is considered wrong but not the other way around, I hate hypocracy and doublestandards.

  40. avatar
    Mark Kobylinski

    I believe that conscription should be abolished, not only in Europe, but the world over. It is a direct violation of the most primal of human rights…the right to life. Speaking specifically about the results in Austria, I can say I find one factor extremely interesting…both men AND women voted on the issue, but ONLY men have to perform the mandatory service. Perhaps this is why it passed. Perhaps if the service was for both genders, the outcome in the voting would be different. Just an observation.

    • avatar
      Jan Rygard

      The hypocracy You point out is absolutely spon on, I am long ago sick and tired of this hypocracy called gender-equality, it is only meant to benefit woman, that is not gender-equality.

  41. avatar

    If 90 % voted to have slavery would that make it ok?

    • avatar
      Jan Rygard

      An absolute valid question!

  42. avatar

    Military service should belong to ancient ages, as slavery. Sally made a very good point here. If you teach people that military is necessary, then they will vote for the preservation of military. In such cases that people worry about themselves, they tend to believe whatever they are told to not to take a risk.
    About national identity; isn’t that kind of bullshit causes of those wars anyway?
    And military teaches discipline? No, it teaches to obey, be stupid, and just listen to the orders. If this is called discipline, which is not. A persons discipline shapes when they are way younger. So why not make the military age like 6-7?
    We don’t need more nationalism, it is there more than enough. We don’t need people who listens to whatever they are told, we want people who question. I think it is a crime to make it mandatory and steal from someones life for such a stupid reason where they can spend on better things. That’s why many developed countries don’t have mandatory military service (Wikipedia).

  43. avatar

    I am very angry about this subject, so I apologize in advance for any swearing that is written in this post.

    It’s f*cking unethical. It’s slavery. I was forced to spent 24 months in the military……something that I didn’t want to do. I lost 2 years of my life. 2 years that I will never get back.

    Being 18 years old, just finished from high school, having your whole life in front of you but being told to choose from only 2 options……. being forced to spend 2 years in the military or being arrested and humiliated, because you choose not to be used and choose to be free, its not patriotic at all.

    This is blatant slavery. “conscription help instill discipline” You don’t need military to be a disciplined individual.

    I was disciplined before I went in. I learned through my parents and my upbringing to respect people as long as they respected me. To think before I act and basically not to be un arsehole. And let me tell you …………. i’ve babysat people in the military my age for 2 years. A bunch of arseholes.
    No military discipline can shape a f*cking idiot from birth.

    “and give young people a stronger sense of national identity”. Ive seen countless of people my age, voice their thoughts on how f*cked up is the country next door. But when the time came to defend there country with their own life NONE gave a shit. I hate my country for that, I hate my people for that and because of that I made sure to make the best out of my 2 years service. I was an almost perfect marksman and became a corporal. Through exams written and physical, I managed to be the best.

    And now…… after ive finished my service… I have to attend military at least 3 times per year. Not much but still f*cking annoying. It can be 24 hours long, 48 hours or more.

    I cant leave my country without telling the military that I am leaving. I cant work in another country without telling them that. I cant live in another country unless I’m working (even if i’m a millionaire I have to work to justify my absence). I cant do this, I cant do that. Is this what it means to be free? Is this what it means to be in a democracy. Is this what it means to be in a European country “Cyprus”. Having to tell every single sh*t you do to someone else?

    Here is a small story told by a Captain (will not be named EVER). On my last time I went in for a 48 hour exercise, a Captain while he was occasionally laughing said…..: “A person….., in this case a 40 year old father of 3 that did his service and now had to attend a 24 hour exercise, a person that was having a hard time finding money to support his family, skipped a 24 hour exercise on purpose (which is actually illegal to do) to go and work to get money. I’ve sent him to military court and he got fined for 800 euros. I had to do it cause it was illegal. He could have avoided that fine if he just attended”. <—–THIS WAS HIS F*CKING LOGIC. He didn't even feel bad that he is forcing a father of 3 that couldn't find money to feed his family attend to this slavery sh*t. I honestly cant wait when this forced slavery is stopped.

    If you think this mandatory sh*t needs to stay, then you are one of those guys that is hiding under the bed and wants other people to protect your ass with their life for free.

    If you think this mandatory shit is good, then you haven't shot a gun or spent countless of hours awake, in your life, forced to stare into the darkness where the enemy is.

    If you think this mandatory slavery sh*t is good for discipline then you are humiliating your self, because you're basically saying that you needed a strong macho man to beat your ass or your kids to come to your or their own senses…… pathetic. Give them books and a musical instrument and they will grow into fine gentlemen and ladies.

    If you think conscription/ slavery = patriotism/ stronger-sense-of-national identity then you are dumb.

    If you were forced in to a mandatory military service and you still think that this is good. Then you were probably sucking d*cks and having a good time or your a sadist that likes watching people suffer as they waste their precious time.

    The government needs to hire people for their dirty work and stop forcing kids to work for free.

    I just realized this is a 2013 post and probably no one cares any more………f*ck
    Hopefully this can give a small insight on the frustration of many people that went through this shit.

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