RIGA - The costs of introducing national defense service (conscription) are not small, but a month of war would cost Latvia around EUR 1 billion, Defense Ministry Parliamentary Secretary Baiba Blodniece (Development/For) said at a meeting of the Saeima Subcommittee for the Comprehensive Defense System.
Although the bills necessary for introducing the national defense service are still on their way to the Saeima, lawmakers held the first debate on the subject Tuesday.
The Defense Ministry is aware that the costs of the undertaking are large enough, which is why the proposal is to phase in conscription over the course of several years. In the current geopolitical situation Latvia cannot afford to do nothing and mandatory military service is a matter of national security. "A month of war would cost us around a billion," Blodniece noted.
She reiterated the Defense Ministry's estimate that Latvia will need to spend 3 percent of its GDP to phase in conscription and pay its defense expenses. This will require the support of Latvia's next parliament. A defense budget of 2.5 percent of GDP would allow for introducing conscription on the basis of existing infrastructure, but later Latvia will have to increase its defense spending to 3 percent of GDP.
"We see that other countries are also rushing to increase their defense expenses. Hopefully, the next parliament will be farsighted and supportive. The price can be too high if we afford to do nothing," Blodniece warned.
The government on Tuesday approved a law on national defense service and other legislative amendments necessary for the recruiting reform.