What are the main obstacles to restoration of mandatory military service in Serbia and Croatia

NEWS 25.02.202415:40 0 komentara
Ministarstvo odbrane i Vojska Srbije, N1 / Tea Mihanović

Possible restoration of mandatory military service has become a regional topic when, after Serbia, a similar initiative was launched in Croatia as well. January 1, 2025 is mentioned in that country as the earliest date for a possible implementation of this initiative.

The topic was launched in Croatia primarily as a response to global security challenges, such as the war in Ukraine and the Middle East, but also to strained relations in the region. However, as in Serbia, the return of military service in Croatia, which is a member of NATO, is accompanied by numerous doubts such as the length of military service, the number of recruits annually, conditions of accommodation and training of soldiers, etc.

According to experts’ in both countries, the current needs of the Serbian Army are around 10,000 recruits annually, while the Armed Forces of Croatia would need around 2,600 recruits a year.

Proponents of the return of mandatory military service in Croatia are aware that for the implementation of this initiative, it is necessary to fulfill a number of prerequisites, such as adequate conditions for the accommodation of regular soldiers, then a sufficient number of officers and non-commissioned officers who would carry out training, material means for training, which raises the question of how much it would all cost.

It is also an open question how long the reactivated mandatory military service would last in Croatia, and so far there is a discussion between one month and six months period. Experts estimate that the basic training of soldiers can be carried out to some extent in three months, while part of the specialist training can be carried out in six months.

The Croatian Ministry of Defense deems that the optimal solution would be for mandatory military training to last three months.

In Serbia, President Aleksandar Vucic hinted in January this year at a possibility of the military term being “extended” from 90 to 100 or “maybe 110 days.”

One of the arguments for the return of mandatory military service is the fact that in the last two to three years, interest in voluntary military service in Croatia has drastically decreased, so according to the latest information, the number of recruits is between 350 and 400 annually.

In Serbia, the number of soldiers who voluntarily serve in the army is around 1,200 recruits per year, and military service lasts six months, three times longer than in Croatia.

One of the biggest obstacles to the return of military service in Croatia is the fact that in the last year of mandatory military service, which was in 2008, as many as 70 percent of recruits appealed to conscientious objection. In Serbia, that percentage was somewhat lower – about fifty percent of recruits did not want to serve military service under arms in 2010.

In both Croatia and Serbia, speech of conscience is a constitutional category that cannot be changed without amending the Constitution. The Croatian Defense Law stipulates that a military conscript can submit a request for civilian service from the time he is entered into the military records until the end of his military service.

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