2021.06.21 10:00

Lithuania's State Defence Council meets to discuss military spending, migration from Belarus

BNS2021.06.21 10:00

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda is convening a meeting of the State Defence Council on Monday to discuss defence funding and the situation in Belarus.

The council consists of the president, the prime minister, the parliament speaker, the defence minister and the chief of defence.

It will also assess progress in drawing up a crisis management concept and the implementation of previous decisions aimed at barring market access for electricity from Belarus' Astravyets nuclear power plant, the president's office has said.

In early June, Nausėda and government officials agreed to increase this year's defence budget to make sure that it meets the 2-percent GDP target. Lithuania's faster-than-projected economic growth has put the country at risk of falling short of the goal.

Defence spending is to be raised by 20.5 million euros to bring it to 2.03 percent of GDP.

Lithuania's budget law allows the Finance Ministry to borrow funds to ensure that defence spending does not fall below 2 percent of GDP.

Asta Skaisgirytė, Nausėda's chief foreign policy adviser, has said that the Belarus-related discussion will focus on a recent surge in migrant crossings from the neighbouring country.

The president also intends to raise the issue of irregular migration from Belarus at the European Council's meeting on June 24-25, she said.

A total of almost 450 people, mostly Iraqi citizens, have been caught trying to cross into Lithuania from Belarus this year, according to the State Border Guard Service.

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