Macedonia helps retiring soldiers make transition to public sector

03/02/2014

A new government measure enables professional soldiers to work in public institutions after they retire from the military.

By Biljana Lajmanovska for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 03/02/14

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Macedonian soldiers can be reassigned to public institutions as salaried workers after retiring from the military under a new law proposed by the government. [AFP]

The Macedonian government proposed a law that will allow professional soldiers to become salaried workers at public institutions once they retire from the military.

The measure came in response to the demands by 4,000 professional soldiers, concerned they will be left without employment after their mandatory retirement at age 45. It is a more comprehensive programme than those offered by other countries in the region.

Under the new law, soldiers can be re-assigned to public institutions as security officers, policemen, guards, forest patrolmen and similar jobs commensurate to their skills.

"Once the professional soldiers are re-assigned to service in other state institutions, they will be regularly employed and will continue to receive salaries from those institutions until they reach the conditions for retirement," said Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.

Upon retiring, the former soldiers will be eligible to receive pensions for their work in the public institutions.

In their efforts to lobby the government for the measure, soldiers cited lack of mechanisms to transfer military skills to the civilian sector in a highly competitive labour market in Macedonia.

"It is undoubtedly good news and one of our main demands has practically been satisfied," Vele Krbaleski, president of the Independent Union of Professional Soldiers, told SETimes.

Krbaleski said the union also demands that 120 soldiers, who were forced to retire two years ago before the retirement age was raised from 35 to 45, be reinstated in the military and enjoy the benefits of the new law.

Macedonia's programme is more detailed than others in the region. Croatian law requires officials to develop programmes for honourably discharged veterans but is not specific. Serbia offers job training to retired veterans. Veterans in other countries are sometimes employed by the state, but there is no such requirement to offer employment.

Officers said the new measure will end uncertainty about future opportunities and will reduce recidivism.

"I can say that until now some soldiers were preoccupied about what will they do after retiring at 45? ... With this measure, I am certain they will remain professional soldiers and will perform their tasks until the last day of their military service," General Gjorgji Bojadziev, former chief of staff in the Macedonian army, told SETimes.

The measure will also improve motivation among soldiers and commanding officers, and will increase interest among potential recruits, said Metodi Hadzi-Janev, professor at the Military Academy in Skopje.

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"We can now expect increased interest among citizens to join professional military service, which will in turn influence on increasing professionalisation and improving selection," Hadzi-Janev told SETimes.

The military issued a public call to employ 170 new professional soldiers last December, but needs another 1,000 soldiers to achieve the goal envisaged in the country's security strategy plan.

State institutions will also benefit from receiving highly skilled, experienced and disciplined professionals, Hadzi-Janev said.

What can Macedonia do to further integrate retired military professionals in the civilian sector? Share your opinion in the comments space.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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