VILNIUS – Israel's universal defense system and its fast mobilization of reservists due to the military conflict with the Palestinian militant group Hamas could serve as a model for Lithuania, according to President Gitanas Nauseda.
"This is a model, albeit not in all respects. It is no secret that the Israeli government is currently being heavily criticized for failing to see the signs of such an attack being prepared, and that the intelligence bodies should have detected and informed the government about an operation of this scale. But when it comes to mobilization and the universal defense system, this is definitely something to learn from," Nauseda told a TV3 program aired on Monday.
"As to the military, I believe we would be able to operate and mobilize based on a set of very clear algorithms, but when it comes to the public defense system, there is certainly room for improvement," he said.
At its next meeting, the president-chaired State Defense Council is scheduled to discuss Lithuania's universal defense plan which will define armed defense and the role of institutions and of civil resistance, according to Nauseda.
The plan is currently in the final stages of preparation.
In the president's words, it would aim at greater coordination among different institutions, "because, I believe, there is a weak spot here; these algorithms have not yet been worked out".
"I think we will reach an agreement in this area, and I hope that everything will then pass into the hands of the implementing institutions and that we will definitely do the work that we have set out to do," he said.
Nauseda said he was also concerned about the civil defense situation, emphasizing the need to ensure that in a critical situation, people should not only be aware of shelter locations but also "know what to do" and that "the information system should tell them very clearly who is moving where and how".
The president said he had discussed this with Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite more than a year ago.
"It's been practically a year now; I wouldn't say that we've made much progress in this sense," he said.
Nauseda also pointed out that real estate developers have been facing difficulties in obtaining the necessary approvals when it comes to safety requirements for public buildings designed to be used by more than 100 people at a time and for new buildings with more than five floors.
"We are still unable to finalize the special conditions, (...) which requires an agreement between two ministries. The issue has been at a standstill for two to three months now," the president said.
"It's a matter of time, maybe things will start moving, but this an illustration of how bureaucratic clumsiness and the inability to reach agreement even within a narrow circle sometimes prevents things from moving forward," he said.
"I have the impression that the threat of war or a crisis situation is being treated as theoretical," Nauseda said. "I'm talking about how the institutions look at the work they are entrusted to do and the way they prioritize it."
"If you think there'll be no war and that there's no need to prepare for it, then why bother with those shelters?" he asked rhetorically.
"In words, everybody seems to agree that this is a priority, in deeds – no way," the president added.