VILNIUS - Lithuania needs a bigger defense budget to ensure cyber security and prepare for universal military conscription, says Vytautas Bakas, chairman of the parliament's Committee on National Security and Defense, which has recently called on political parties to commit to increasing defense spending to 2.5 percent of GDP in 2020.
"Lithuania has failed to meet the 2 percent commitment for a long time, and we have much homework to do in light of those new challenges -- from infrastructure to cyber threats, intelligence capabilities, information space protection, propaganda," Bakas told BNS on Wednesday.
"Putting the idea of universal conscription into practice requires human resources, infrastructure, weapons," he said.
The committee decided on Tuesday that political parties should update their agreement on defense policies to set a 2.5 percent of GDP target for defense spending in 2020.
The stepping-up of defense expenditure by Lithuania would also send a message to its allies that "its attention to its commitments and the security of its people is strong", the lawmaker said.
"If the Seimas really wants to be that political leader and wants to regain trust, then this is a very good opportunity to show that leadership," he said.
In the 2014 agreement, political parties agreed to raise defense spending annually until it reaches 2 percent of GDP. The current government has pledged to achieve the 2 percent target in 2018.
This year's defense spending is planned at 1.8 percent of GDP.