Military Draft Bill Seen Hindering Higher Education

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–"The government bill on military obligation brought before the National Assembly does not solve the problems of the army–but only shifts them onto the shoulders of academic life in Armenia and the consequences of this bill may be rather grave," explained Rector of the Yerevan State University–Radik Martirossian

Martirossian’s commen’s are in connection with Parliament’s discussions of a government sponsored bill on the cancellation of military service deferment for students for the duration of their studies.

The bill by Parliament speaker Babken Ararktsian proposes that the military not accept educational obligations as a valid reason for deferment of service.

According to Martirossian–in case of conscription of students–first the necessary condition of training skilled specialists–that is the consistency of the education process will break down.

Second–the approval of the government bill involves risks of closing traditional scientific disciplines for Armenia in the field of natural sciences and engineering specialties–because the enrollment in these areas is already low.

Then–the outflow of students will produce the reduction of job places for teachers at institutes of higher education. And at last–the influx of educated specialists–now called up after graduating from institutes–will sharply decrease.

Academician Edward Ghazarian said he fully shared his colleague’s concerns. The Department of Physics at the Yerevan State University appealed to Levon Ter-Petrosyan–the government and the National Assembly to send the bill for revision in order to extend the right for the deferment of military service not only for the period of studies at institutes of higher education but also for the period of post-graduate studies.

Otherwise the Department of Physics is ready to resort to other forms of fighting this bill–the appeal letter stated.

"A year ago it was clear that the situation in the Parliament was like the one we see today–so to improve it we should form a professional parliament as soon as possible," Edward Yegorian–Chairman of the Parliament Commission for State and Legal Issues–stated regarding the debates over the military draft bill.

"As soon as a male infant is born in Armenia–the parents are thinking of ways to exclude him from serving in the military. We must abolish this way of thinking," Yegorian said. "If sons of high-ranking officials serve in the army–then everybody–including Parliament members–will feel independent of the Defense Minister and thus will be able to make the right decisions," he said.

The main difference between the two bills submitted to the Parliament is that the government bill does not provide for deferment of military service for students enrolled in college–while the one proposed by the Parliament Speaker does.

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