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Bulgaria to end military conscription in 2008

Written by: Staff
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SOFIA, June 29 (Reuters) Bulgaria's parliament approved today a law abolishing military conscription, paving the way for a fully professional army and ending a feared right of passage for young men in the NATO member state.

Deputies struck down the requirement under which all men over 18 are required to serve in the military for at least six months. The law must now be signed by the president and will take effect in 2008.

The Defence Ministry has said the transformation would cost up to 40 million levs (25.72 million dollars).

It will cut the army's size to up to 35,000 from around 45,000 but authorities said they may have trouble finding future candidates and will have to muster an extra 3,000-5,000 soldiers for professional posts.

Around a third of Bulgaria's military is currently conscripted.

Bulgaria is not the first former Soviet satellite to abandon conscription, a legacy of the communist era which many young men try to avoid by extending their studies or feigning sickness or other disabilities.

REUTERS CH HS1422

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