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Government reveals incentives to lure young Belarusians into army
On 23 August, a round table on the topic "Military arrangement of the state: effective functioning" was held in Minsk. Representatives of the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Education told the media how they would motivate the Belarusians to serve in the army.
The main "motivation" is already known: the law "On Changing the Laws on the Effective Functioning of the Military Arrangement of the State" (the so-called law on draft deferments) was enacted in Belarus on August 10th. A young man who has reached the age of 18 will have only one deferment from service in the army. After graduating from college or university, it will be possible for him to continue studies only by 'paying off the debt to the Motherland'.
But let's listen to the ministry officials.
Benefits, privileges, advantages (plans for now)
Syarhei Kaspyarovich, Head of the Main Department of Vocational Education of the Ministry of Education, promises "service" benefits for entering secondary special or higher education institutions.
"But the benefits are not there for the young people to complete military service and fall into our arms. No, there are clear mechanisms. People who have completed military service will be able to enter professions that are in great demand in the economy, even without entrance exams (this issue is still under consideration). The list of them will be coordinated by the Ministry of Economy with the neccessary level of progress at the previous level of education".
According to the official, the necessary level is linked to the grades in the school certificate, which should not be lower than a certain level. "It could be 6, it could be 7, it could be 8 -- we're still working on it," Kaspyarovic said.
But the issue of preferential accommodation in dormitories, he said, has almost been resolved with the Ministry of Housing and Communal Services.
A representative of the Ministry of Housing also suggests there should be an enhanced scholarship and a discount on tuition fees for those who have been admitted to a paid studies program after the army.
There are professionals telling others good things about the Belarusian army
Uladzimir Makarau, Head of the Information Department of the Main Department of Ideological Work of the Ministry of Defense, criticized the states with contract armies.
"Five years ago, I wrote an article and referred to the opinion of the former Deputy Minister of Poland who stated quite rightly that the army, manned in Poland only under the contract, will not be able to provide protection of the state, because it is focused on the expeditionary functions, while the defense of the Motherland is a matter of national interest," said the spokesman for the Ministry of Defense.
According to Makarau, the mixed principle of recruiting young people for the army -- to take in everyone including the conscripts and contractors -- is the most effective for Belarus.
"The states which build their true independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, ensure it through national protection. This also applies to such classically neutral state like Switzerland. Yes, there is a slightly different security system. However, once mobilised, its army becomes larger than the Chinese army. I'm not even talking about Israel, where the army staff also includes women.
Better than in NATO
Uladzimir Makarau, a representative of the Ministry of Defense, noted that last year the cash allowance for conscripts was increased twofold. We are talking about the amounts from... 29 to 63 rubles. Does the representative of the Ministry of Defense consider this allowance worthy?
Makarau: I think this is not the limit. Servicemen, including conscripts, should be provided with a decent allowance, so under the same plan to increase the motivation for military service we plan to provide for further increase in the availability of appropriate conditions. But I will not announce when it will happen.
Makarau reminded those present that conscript soldiers are provided with everything necessary at the expense of the state.
"The food rations are higher in caloric value than those of the NATO. The army today is not the same it was in the Soviet times: most canteens are served by civilians.
There will be no unnecessary personnel in the army
During this year's spring draft, 4,200 people became soliers of 140,000 conscripts. Conscription commissions called up about 40 thousand people at that time -- the rest of them had deferments. According to Makarau, the armed forces are planning to recruit about seven thousand people in the coming autumn draft over the innovations.
The representative of the Ministry of Defense noted that at the moment the Belarusian army consists of 50 thousand servicemen and 15 thousand civilian personnel.
"No a single extra person will be recruited," assures Makarau.