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Cyprus Army - Cyprus National Guard

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Information on the Cyprus National Guard

Cyprus National Guard                         Photo ©

The Cyprus National Guard

The Army of the Republic of Cyprus was founded immediately after the Declaration of Independence. It consisted of 2.000 men, 60% of whom were Greek Cypriots and 40% Turkish Cypriots. National Service was not mandatory and could be imposed with the mutual agreement of the President (Greek Cypriot) and the Vice-President (Turkish Cypriot) of the Republic.

After the intercommunal clashes of December 1963-64, the Turkish Cypriots withdrew from the Army of the Republic. At the same time and because of threats made by Turkey for military action, the High Military Command for the Defence of Cyprus was created and a Greek Division was transferred to Cyprus. This Division operated on the island up to the end of 1967, when it was withdrawn from Cyprus. In 1963, the Special Joint Staff of Cyprus was also established, which was renamed the National Guard General Staff in 1964 after the establishment of the National Guard.

Establishment of The Cyprus National Guard

In June 1964, the Cyprus House of Representatives adopted the National Guard Law, establishing compulsory national service and thus setting the foundations for the establishment of the active Cyprus Army. The military service was initially 18 months and the National Guard was staffed by officers, who assumed the responsibility of organizing and training its personnel with the help of volunteers who had joined the army in 1962 and 1963.

The structure of the National Guard:

National Guard Battle Units (Mechanised and non-mechanised)

Support Units and Service Units

Reserve and Replenishment Units

Between 15 June 1964 and 2 August 1965, on the basis of the National Guard Law, a successive compulsory drafting of conscripts took place, resulting in the gradual setting up of the National Guard and the enlistment of about 17.000 men.

In August 1964 the National Guard was confronted with the first serious military operation consisting of air attacks by Turkey in the Tiliria area, while in 1967 the National Guard intervened to solve a crisis in the Kofinou area.

In July 1974 units of the National Guard troops were used by the junta regime of Athens in a coup d’état, against President Makarios. This clash with the forces that supported President Makarios and the great majority of Greek Cypriot people weakened the National Guard to such a degree that it was incapable of confronting the Turkish forces that invaded Cyprus on 20 July 1974. The Turkish forces invaded on the pretext that the coup d’état against the President had disrupted   constitutional order, (20-22 July 1974 and 14-16 August 1974).

The National Guard was called upon to fulfil its ultimate mission, to defend the territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus. Under difficult conditions the National Guard resisted and fought laborious battles such as the battle in the Kyrenia area, the battle within the Venetian walls of Nicosia and the battle of the Nicosia Airport, causing significant losses to the invading forces and shooting down a number of the Turkish military aircraft.

Since 1974 and up to the present, the National Guard, using modern technological advancements and staffed by well trained officers, graduates of military schools in Greece and other countries, has evolved into a battle-worthy defence and deterrent force, with a high degree of training, operational readiness and fighting capability, comparable to those of European armies.

Beyond its specific military duties, the National Guard has contributed to other activities and carries out social work, such as assistance in fire-fighting, natural disasters and voluntary blood donation.

National Guard Emblem

The two-headed Eagle was established as the emblem of the National Guard since 1964. It symbolizes the ecumenical character of the Greek spirit.


Enlistment Obligations

According to the National Guard Law, all male citizens of the Republic of Cyprus are obliged to enlist for the national service at the age of 18

Duration of National Service

In December 2008, after a decision of the Council of Ministers, national service was reduced from 25 to 24 months. In February 2016, it was announced that as from June 2016, national service will be for 14 months.


All those included in the following categories are exempted from national service:

Those serving as permanent personnel in the Army or the Security Forces or the Service Prisons of the Republic


Permanent residents outside Cyprus

Those judged as unsuitable for medical reasons

The only or eldest son of a family who has a father or a brother that was killed or missing or died from injuries or was wounded during his national service in the force, or while serving as a special officer, or if his family receives a pension based on the Pension Fund and Extraordinary Benefits for Dependents of Persons Killed and Incapacitated Law of 1962 to 1982

The only or eldest son whose father or brother

disappeared or was killed or died from injuries under extraordinary circumstances before the coup d’état of 15 July 1974 and whose dependents, consequently, receive an allowance from the Republic

disappeared or was killed or died from injuries during or after the coup d’ état of 15 July or during the conditions caused by the Turkish Invasion of 20 July 1974 and who was identified by the Allowance Committee as “killed in action” or as “fully incapacitated”, depending on the case

The prisoners of war who are considered as such by the Geneva Convention, as well as those held hostage by the Turkish invasion forces, during or after the Turkish invasion

Persons who, on the date that they are called for national service, have more than three dependents, as well as those persons who acquire the above specified number of dependents during their national service

Ministers, members of the House of Representatives and judges of any Court

The sons of a family in which both parents are deceased at the time of enlistment

Those who have dual nationality, being both Cypriot and Greek, given that during their permanent residence in Greece they have completed (but not bought” themselves out of army service) the national service in the Greek National Forces.

Special Exemption Cases

Those who belong to the Maronite, Armenian and Latin communities are exempted from their service in the National Guard, unless they declare that they wish to enlist in the National Guard (Voluntary Enlistment).

Enlistment Benefits

Large Families
The military service is reduced to 13 months in the following cases:•    Firstborn son of a family with four male children

Firstborn or second born son of a family that, during the day

of enlistment, has five or more male children alive

Eldest or only son of a family with 5 children out of whom

four are minors and not married

The two eldest sons of a family with 6 or 7 children, out of whom four are minors and not married

The 3 eldest, 4 eldest, 5 eldest, 7 eldest sons of a family with 8 or 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15, 16 and 17 children respectively, out of whom 4 are minors and not married

Third son on condition that the other two sons have completed their military service.


The duration of service is reduced by 14 months for conscripts of whom one of their parents is not alive.

From the Maternal Side

The service of citizens of the Republic whose father is not a Cypriot citizen and who are not persons of Cypriot origin through male descent, is reduced to 6 months, as long as:

They were born between 16 August 1960 and 1 June 1999 whether in Cyprus or any foreign country)

Voluntarily and after submitting an application, they have registered and have become citizens of the Republic, based on the article 4(3) of the Law for the Citizens of the Republic of Cyprus of 1967 to 2002, because at the year of their birth their mother was or was allowed to become a citizen of the Republic of Cyprus.

Repatriated Immigrants

The national service is reduced for those persons, who were born or emigrated with their families abroad, for a period of over 10 years and have returned to Cyprus for permanent residence, depending on their age at the time of their arrival, i.e.

Persons aged 10 to 13 years on their return to Cyprus will serve for 18 months

Persons aged 13 to 18 years on their return to Cyprus will serve for 12 months

Persons aged 18 to 25 years on their return to Cyprus will serve for 6 months

Persons aged 26 to 49 years on their return to Cyprus will serve for 3 months.

Enlistment of Conscripts

The enlistment of conscripts is initiated by a decision of the Council of Ministers and is implemented twice a year in the months of January and July.

Reduction of Disciplinary Sentences

The first forty (40) days of disciplinary sentences (which translate into additional days of service) are excused

In cases of special circumstances of Minister of Defence has the power to reduce completely or in part the duration of disciplinary sentence to be served when it exceeds 100 days (for example for a total of 150 days of disciplinary remand, the conscript shall not serve the initial 40 days, shall definitely serve the other 60, whereas the remaining 50 days can be reduced by decision of the Minister of Defence).

Discharging of Conscripts due to Special Circumstances

The Minister of Defence has the power to discharge conscripts by age-group or part of these, by region or category, or in special cases, individual persons, following their application, for reasons of special circumstances (such as family, social and economic reasons).

Participation of Women in the National Guard

Women Officers and Non-Commissioned Officer (NCOs) serve in the National Guard.

Officers are either graduates of Higher Military Education Institutions in Greece or directly appointed by the Council of Ministers.

NCOs can be either career or voluntary personnel. Career NCOs are either graduates of Military Schools of Non-Commissioned Officers in Greece or come from volunteer NCOs who are given permanent status after serving in the National Guard for at least six years.

Women can enrol in all Schools and Faculties of Military Academies and colleges without any limitations in the number of positions.

The enlistment of women in the National Guard on a voluntary basis as NCOs began in 1990 and continues with great success. Their appointment takes place on a contract basis with an initial duration of three years, which can be renewed for subsequent three-year periods, provided this renewal is justified by the military needs at the time.

The Joint Defence Doctrine

In November 1993, the Prime Minister of Greece and the President of the Republic of Cyprus jointly declared ‘The Joint Defence Doctrine between Greece and Cyprus’. The implementation of this agreement seeks to enhance the Greek and Cypriot military capabilities in the entire common defence area from Thrace to the Aegean Sea and Cyprus, so as to improve the Greek defence against Turkish expansionism and to create a powerful deterrent force against Turkish aggression.

The declaration of the Joint Defence Doctrine between Greece and Cyprus aims to underline the commitment of Greece to consider as a cause of war (casus belli) any Turkish attempt to invade the government-controlled areas of Cyprus.PIO

Last Updated 06 December 2016




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