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An agreement that Lithuania's parliamentary parties signed a year ago to set out the country's defense policy for the next decade is not being implemented, the leader of the biggest opposition party said on Thursday.
Gabrielius Landsbergis
Gabrielius Landsbergis
© DELFI / Andrius Ufartas

Gabrielius Landsbergis, the leader of the conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats, spoke to reporters after a meeting between his party's MPs and Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis.

"The minister confirmed that the defense (policy) agreement that was initiated by (Prime Minister) Saulius Skvernelis is not being implemented," Landsbergis said. "The minister also confirmed (...) that the defense funding as it stands today does not match the level (needed in light) of threats to Lithuania."

"We are invited to sign other agreements setting out commitments to education or other areas, but if one (agreement) is not being implemented, how can we expect others to be implemented," he added.

All parliamentary parties, except for the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP), agreed a year ago to increase defense spending to 2.5 percent of GDP by 2030 at the latest.

Karoblis admitted that the defense budget is not growing fast enough to meet the target.

He noted, however, that, in terms of money, the national defense sector receives more funding than planned, due to Lithuania's robust economic growth.

"We don't have the figures you mentioned – 2.04 percent, 2.08 percent of GDP – but we have a completely different base because of the GDP growth. We have the amount that was actually planned when it (the agreement) was signed," the minister said.

"Absolutely all the projects that were mapped out in 2018 are getting going and we are getting more money than it was planned," he said.

According to Karoblis, both personnel and capability development plans are being carried out and there are no signs that this could change in the coming years.

Lithuania's defense budget stands at 948 million euros this year, accounting for 1.96 percent of the updated GDP estimate. Therefore, the state plans to borrow around 30 million euros to meet NATO's 2 percent of GDP spending target.

The minister expects the borrowing decision to be made in late October.

The government's draft 2020 budget bill earmarks over 1.027 billion euros for defense, accounting for 2.02 percent of GDP based on the current economic growth projections.

BNS
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