The Macedonian parliament voted in May to abolish conscription, and in fact no new recruits will be called up for military service. Macedonia's Defence Minister had already announced an end to conscription in April 2006, but the formal decision was made by parliament in May. Officials said the new professional army would have around 7,000 regular soldiers and 2,500 reserve troops, with a budget of around €100,000 (US$121,000), or 2.3 to 2.6 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.
According to activists from Peace Action, the Macedonian section of War Resisters' International, the decision is partly the result of the increase in the numbers of conscientious objectors. As reported in CO-Update March 2006, according to the Macedonian Ministry of Defence, in 2005, there were 1,530 applications for conscientious objection, of which 1,330 were accepted (87%). By the end of 2005, 420 conscientious objectors had finished their substitute service, and 430 were serving.
While conscription ends, the Macedonian military is increasingly taking part in international operations abroad. Macedonia is supposed to send 90 new troops to Afghanistan which will be under British command, and the country's military has a few troops in Iraq too.
Sources: ISN Security Watch, 11 April 2006, and information from Peace Action