Minister Stefanović for Euronews Serbia: Proposals for compulsory military service soon, elaboration and public debate to follow
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Nebojša Stefanović, PhD, said today in a live broadcast on Euronews Serbia television that the Ministry of Defence would propose models of compulsory military service to the President of the Republic of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić over the next two weeks, followed by a long public debate, and a final decision about whether compulsory military service would be introduced.
He adds that the introduction of compulsory military service has been discussed for some time with experts at the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces, and with those interested in being involved in the process.
"This is not an easy topic for many reasons, and we want to propose to President Vučić a model that we consider the most suitable for Serbia and its defence, but also for young people who would potentially perform military service", says Stefanović.
Asked whether this topic has again become the focus of public interest due to the armed conflict in Europe, Stefanović said that reopening the debate on compulsory military service should not be associated with current events.
"There are many reasons why we are thinking of lifting the suspension of military service. One of them is to enhance the capability of the armed forces to effectively defend our country at all times, but also to train young people to use complex combat systems and, of course, other new equipment. When I was doing my military service as a signalman, the equipment we used for communication cannot be compared to the equipment we use nowadays", the Minister emphasized.
According to him, if we want to have people capable of defending our country at a given moment, we need to provide them with an opportunity to learn how to do that and enable them to give their contribution. He adds, however, that the most complex combat means, which require much longer training than just a few months, will still be used by professional soldiers only.
"But you don't need two years to learn how to operate a “Thales” radio, for example, or to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to defend the country. Or to use basic weapons and military equipment... Some of them might serve in engineer units or work in IT and thus contribute to cyber defence of our country. The topic is very complex, and that is why we have been talking about it for so long," says the Minister of Defence.
He emphasizes that within the next two weeks, the ministry will provide answers regarding the capacities of the country’s 51 barracks, financial aspects, and training models. According to current estimates, there are between 15,000 and 20,000 young people who may be subject to military duty. According to Stefanović, the number of professional soldiers in the Serbian Armed Forces will still be significantly larger.
"Young people would be assigned to units according to the proposals of the General Staff. Most likely, there will be four call-ups a year, if the enlistment period is three months, i.e. 90 days," the Minister says.
Stefanović also says that the purpose of potential reintroduction of compulsory military service is not to prepare the public for a change in terms of Serbia’s neutrality.
"Serbia is fully committed to military neutrality, and when a country is neutral, it can rely on itself to protect national interests," said the Minister.
According to him, Serbia wants to remain neutral because it is in its best interest, and to cooperate with everyone, but also "to have armed forces that are capable of protecting its country."
"These young people will gain some knowledge, and we also want to use the reserve more actively. I believe that all these ideas, when we put them all on the table, will give a complete picture of what kind of military we want to have in the next 10, 15 or 20 years", said Stefanović.
Source: Euronews Serbia