A looming shortfall in conscripts for the Armenian army is forcing the country to mull tough choices. A fierce debate has erupted over a plan to remove university enrollment as grounds for an exemption from military service. The proposal reflects both concern over the country's shrinking male population and worries about the growing military strength of the country's long-time archrival, Azerbaijan.
Proposed amendments that are expected to be submitted to parliament this fall would require young men to enroll in the army either immediately after finishing high school or after finishing university. Under current legislation covering the draft, male university students receive a temporary waiver from military service; that waiver becomes a permanent exemption if they are enrolled in a doctorate program.
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Gayane Abrahamyan is a reporter for ArmeniaNow.com in Yerevan.