Cyprus' government has reduced compulsory service in its mainly conscript military from 24 months to 14 months, fulfilling a campaign promise after years of deliberations and planning.

Cyprus Defense Minister Christoforos Fokaides announced the decision Thursday, adding that professional soldiers will be hired to make up the shortfall in the standing force's numbers, which will be created as soldiers are discharged earlier. Deputy government spokesman Viktoras Papadopoulos put the number of professionals to be hired at 3,000.

Ethnically divided Cyprus relies heavily on its reserves to bolster its small standing force that faces over 35,000 Turkish troops in the island's breakaway Turkish Cypriot north.

Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded following a coup aiming at union with Greece.