PABRADE – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda expects that political parties will not take long to agree on a new national defense deal and on ramping up defense spending.
"I am convinced that our political parties will very soon agree that we have to pay much more attention to security ourselves," he told reporters in Pabrade on Friday after visiting the US troops stationed in the town close to Vilnius.
After Russia started its war in Ukraine, even those parties that were previously somewhat skeptical about raising the defense budget have stated very clearly that defense spending must increase, the president said, referring to the Lithuanian Social Democratic Labor Party (LSDLP).
"Now I don't see a single party in Lithuania that is not in favor of increasing defense spending, even in light of all the social and economic challenges that will be partly related to the Ukrainian war," Nauseda said.
"Everyone understands that a country's independence begins and ends with its security. Only in a secure state can we create economic prosperity," he added.
In the wake of Russia's military invasion of Ukraine, Lithuanian politicians have started working on a new national defense agreement to set out the country's commitments in the area for the next four to five years.
Nauseda suggests raising defense spending to 3 percent of GDP next year.
The parliament has this year increased the defense budget by almost 300 million euros, bringing it to 2.5 percent of GDP.
In September 2018, parliamentary parties, except the LSDP, signed an agreement to raise defense funding to 2.5 percent of GDP by 2030. The document also calls for taking decisions in 2022 on the possibility of introducing universal conscription.