New Lithua­nian PM plans in­crease in de­fence spend­ing to NATO stan­dard

Baltic News Network - - Front Page -

Former Lithua­nian In­te­rior Min­is­ter and head of po­lice, Saulius Skver­nelis, gained this week the back­ing Seimas and the Lithua­nian Pres­i­dent to be­come the coun­try’s next Prime Min­is­ter. He has pledged to in­crease de­fence spend­ing to the thresh­old re­quired by NATO.

The New York Times re­ports that Skver­nelis noted in a state­ment after his elec­tion on Novem­ber 22 that Lithua­nia would join Es­to­nia, Poland and sev­eral other NATO mem­bers, who ful­fil their com­mit­ments to spend at least 2 per­cent of gross do­mes­tic prod­uct on their armed forces.

«We are ready to in­crease fi­nanc­ing for our military up to 2 per­cent by the end of 2017 — 2018 at the lat­est. On top of that, we will in­crease spend­ing on in­te­rior se­cu­rity sys­tems, such as bor­der con­trol, civil de­fence and in­tel­li­gence ser­vices,» stated the politi­cian.

To the mind of Skver­nelis, the Euro­pean Union’s sanc­tions should be eased only when there is «real progress on the ground from Rus­sia’s side»; how­ever, cur­rently, the in­volve­ment of Rus­sian forces in Ge­or­gia and Ukraine «does not im­ply will­ing­ness to co­op­er­ate in a neigh­bourly spirit».

Lithua­nia’s Peas­ant and Green’s Union party leader Saulius Skver­nelis Au­thor: AFP/SCANPIX

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