2019.11.22 12:00

President says revising Lithuania's defence spending plans ‘irresponsible’

BNS 2019.11.22 12:00

The Lithuanian president has criticised members of parliament who have suggested revising an earlier agreement among parliamentary parties to raise defence spending to 2.5 percent of GDP. Revising national agreements is “irresponsible”, Gitanas Nausėda said on Thursday.

Major political parties in Lithuania signed a so-called national agreement last year on increasing defence spending to 2.5 percent of GDP by 2030, but a parliamentary committee recently proposed to revise the wording in next year's budget bill on the government's borrowing needs for defence.

“It would be very irresponsible to question this national agreement,” Nausėda told journalists at the Presidential palace. “In my opinion, it would undermine confidence in all future national agreements.”

According to Nausėda, Lithuania has to meet its commitments in the area of security if it hopes to receive more support from NATO allies.

NATO guidelines for member states is to spend at least 2 percent of GDP on defence. Lithuania currently meets the target.

The country's draft government budget for next year currently provides for borrowing funds to ensure that spending on defence reaches 2.05 percent of GDP. The parliamentary committee suggested on Wednesday that the target be lowered to “no less than” 2.01 percent of GDP.

But Ramūnas Karbauskis, the leader of the biggest parliamentary party, the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, said earlier on Thursday that the public would not understand if the government raised defence spending, but failed to allocate more funds for education or culture.

The current draft 2020 budget earmarks over 1.027 billion euros for defence, accounting for 2.02 percent of GDP based on the latest economic growth projections. This year, Lithuania's defence spending stands at 967 million euros, or 2.03 percent GDP.