Hellenic Republic

Covers the period from April 2001 to March 2004.

Population: 11.0 million (2.0 million under 18)
Government armed forces: 177,600
Compulsory recruitment age: 18
Voluntary recruitment age: 18
Voting age: 18
Optional Protocol: ratified 22 October 2003
Other treaties ratified (see glossary): CRC, GC AP I and II, ICC, ILO 138, ILO 182

The minimum legal age for voluntary recruitment was officially 18, but the law allowed 17 year olds to be called up in times of war or increased mobilization.


The law on conscription to military service fell short of international standards; alternative civilian service was of discriminatory and punitive length. A number of applicants were denied conscientious objector status or had their conscientious objector status withdrawn.1 Greece has remained in a state of permanent mobilization since 1976 because of the conflict in Cyprus.


National recruitment legislation and practice

The constitution states that "Every Greek capable of bearing arms is obliged to contribute to the defence of the Fatherland as provided by law" (Article 4).2

The legal basis for conscription, Law No. 2510 of 1997, states that all Greek men are liable for military service from the beginning of the year they turn 19 until the end of the year they are 50, and that at times of increased mobilization, they may be called up from the beginning of the year in which they turn 18 (Article 1). Article 14 states further that "during a general mobilization or war period, it may be permitted, by decision of the Minister of National Defence not published in the Government Gazette, the voluntary enlistment, as volunteers, of conscripts or reservists who belong to the age-group or category which has not been called up for enlistment, as well as of fellow countrymen, who have completed their seventeenth year of age and not exceeded their fiftieth one". As of January 2003, military service was for 12 months for the army, 15 months for the navy and 14 months for the air force.3

On ratifying the Optional Protocol in October 2003, Greece declared that "the minimum age at which voluntary recruitment in the Greek armed forces is permitted by national law is 18 years".4 It was not clear whether Greece planned to amend legislation to exclude the possibility of under-18s serving in the armed forces.

Depending on the route of entry into the armed forces, military recruits are divided into career, volunteer and enlisted personnel: career personnel have come through military academies; volunteer personnel have enlisted voluntarily and are obliged to serve for a specific time period; and enlisted personnel are performing compulsory military service.

Military training and military schools

Military educational institutions include the Hellenic Military Academy, the Hellenic National Defence College and the Non-Commissioned Officer Army School. Military academies enjoy the same status as universities and entrance is conditional on completion of high school education. Students also train abroad at institutions of other NATO member countries.5 There was no information available about the minimum age of entry to these institutions.

1 Amnesty International Reports 2002, 2003 and 2004, http://web.amnesty.org/library/engindex.

2 Constitution, http://www.hri.org/MFA/syntagma.

3 Government Gazette, First Bulletin, Issue No. 136/27, June 1997, http://www.mod.gr/english/recruit/n_2510.htm; White Paper on Defence, Organisation and Operation of the Armed Forces, http://www.hri.org/mod/fylladia/bible/e_k4_ 7.htm.

4 Declarations and reservations to the Optional Protocol, http://untreaty.un.org (subscription required).

5 White Paper on Defence, op. cit.


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