VILNIUS – Even without the introduction of universal conscription, Lithuania will probably conscript all young men fit to serve in 6-8 years due to demographic changes, the country's National Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas says.
"One way or the other, we are moving towards a universal conscription model when practically all men, young men fit to serve are invited to perform military service, and the law does not provide for service deferral as there's only deferral for higher school students, so, with no doubt, that should remain," the minister told a press conference on Thursday.
According to the minister, some conscription-age young men cannot perform military service due to health problems, and the existing demographic situation shows that even without the introduction of universal conscription, after 6-8 years "we will still conscript practically every young man fit to serve".
On Thursday, the National Defense Minister presented a universal conscription feasibility study. It shows that universal conscription for young men after their school graduation could be introduced in six to eight years and it would cost hundreds of millions euros.
The defense minister points out that this study is an assessment of all possibilities, not planned changes, adding that the existing conscription procedure is not being changed.
"A study is not a political decision on universal conscription. It’s not a bill, not a law. A study is a type of research to look into all possible circumstances," he noted.
The aforementioned study shows that initial investments into universal conscription would exceed 0.4 billion euros, rising to 1.5 billion euros in case of universal conscription of young men and women. Depending on the model, it would also cost additional 80 to 200 million euros.
Up to 6,100 young men could be conscripted every year, according to the study, or almost 12,000 young people, if females are included.
However, only a small share of people back compulsory military service for women, Anusauskas pointed out, adding that such a possibility had still to be considered.
Lithuania re-introduced partial conscription in 2015 in response to Russia's action in Ukraine. Currently, more than 3,800 men aged 18-23 are conscripted every year as well as young men who had their service deferred until the age of 26 due to their studies.