Lithuanian political parties to discuss new defense policy deal
Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis is meeting on Tuesday with parliamentary parties' leaders to discuss the country's defense policy for the next decade.
The government proposes that political parties sign an agreement committing to gradually increasing defense spending to 2.5 percent of GDP by 2030, up by 0.5 percentage points from this year's target of 2 percent.
The draft document calls for decisions on introducing universal military conscription to be made in 2022.
The initiators of the new agreement say it would help ensure a consistent defense policy that will not be influenced by election cycles and changes in the political government.
Leaders of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LVŽS), the Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats, the Liberal Movement, the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP), the Lithuanian Social Democratic Labor Party (LSDDP), the Order and Justice Party and the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania–Christian Families Alliance (LLRA-KŠS) have been invited to sign the agreement.
Gintautas Paluckas, the LSDP leader, has voiced the most criticism of the deal, saying that the proposed increase in the defense budget is unjustified and that instead money should be spent on social needs.
The last time the country's political parties signed an agreement on defense and security policy was in 2014, shortly after the annexation of Crimea by Russia. Its key provision of increasing defense spending to 2 percent of GDP is set to be implemented this year.