The bill aims to allow young Armenian men who are 27 or older to return home without facing criminal prosecution
The Armenian National Assembly has extended the terms of a law which allows 27-year-old Armenian citizens to return home and not incur criminal penalties for evading military service.
To do this, they will need to pay a fine.
What is the purpose of the bill?
This is not the first time the country has passed such a bill.
The aim is to encourage Armenian citizens to return home without fear of criminal punishment. Each time such a bill is passed, parliament sets a fixed fine – this time around it will be 1.8 million AMD, or about $3,600.
The bill will affect those who turned 27 between 2018 and 1 March 2019 – about 2,000 people.
The head of the Standing Committee on Defence and Security of the Parliament, Andranik Kocharyan, cited official figures saying 3,225 people aged between 27-35 have avoided military service.
Since 2003, 9,885 people have already taken advantage of the opportunity to pay a fine and avoid criminal prosecution for evading military service.
As a result, the state treasury has received 11.8 billion drams ($24.5 million).
PM Pashinyan calls for Armenian citizens to return home
After coming to power in the spring of 2018, the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan appealed to the youth living abroad to return home and fulfill their military service obligations.
“I say this as a citizen, as a prime minister, who, in the event of a war (God forbid), must fulfill the duties of commander in chief. I consider it important … to appeal to our compatriots, my brothers, and their parents — my brothers and sisters. Let their children decide to return to Armenia as soon as possible and go to the army … together with my son.”
Pashinyan’s son Ashot is a student at Tartu University in Estonia. In March 2018 he turned 18 and returned to Armenia to do his service. He also wrote a statement about his intention to serve in Karabakh, where he was sent during the 2018 summer draft.
The Prime Minister also promised that draft dodgers who return home and go to serve will not be punished:
“We are waiting for everybody! This is a new Armenia, where they do not shy away from military service, where they do not emigrate, where they return home to render their duties and debt in the name of the future of Armenia.”