Lithua­nia seeks po­lit­i­cal par­ties’ ac­cord on long-term de­fence poli­cies

Baltic News Network - - Front Page -

The Lithua­nian gov­ern­ment has pro­posed po­lit­i­cal par­ties to sign a com­pre­hen­sive agree­ment on the coun­try’s de­fence pol­icy for the next decade.

How­ever, some an­a­lysts, like Vaidas Saldžiū­nas, a Delfi.lt jour­nal­ist spe­cial­is­ing in the field of de­fence, be­lieves that such doc­u­ment comes too late and, im­por­tantly, the com­mit­ment to spend 2.5 of GDP for de­fence ought to be ful­filled by 2020, not by 2030 as the draft en­vi­sions.

«Yet it is a good sign that we have such a doc­u­ment drawn up. I be­lieve our par­ties will sign it, how­ever the fi­nal draft can be quite amended, tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion par­ties’ re­marks and pro­pos­als,» Saldžiū­nas told BNN. «I also miss a clear vi­sion where money for de­fence spend­ing will come from».

Prime Min­is­ter Saulius Skver­nelis now wants to dis­cuss the agree­ment with all the lead­ers of Lithua­nian po­lit­i­cal par­ties. «Party lead­ers have been ac­quainted with the draft agree­ment on de­fence pri­or­i­ties to en­sure con­ti­nu­ity (of the de­fence pol­icy) as gov­ern­ments change. Prime Min­is­ter now wants to hear ev­ery­body‘s opin­ion in de­tail,» PM ad­viser Arnoldas Pikžir­nis said. The lead­ers of the Lithua­nian Farm­ers and Greens Union, the con­ser­va­tive Home­land Union – Lithua­nian Chris­tian Democrats, the So­cial Demo­cratic Party of Lithua­nia, the So­cial Demo­cratic Labour Party of Lithua­nia, the Or­der and Jus­tice party and the Elec­toral Ac­tion of Poles in Lithua­nia – Chris­tian Fam­i­lies Al­liance are in­vited to sign this agree­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to the draft, po­lit­i­cal par­ties would pledge to grad­u­ally in­crease de­fence spend­ing to 2.5 per cent GDP by 2030, which is 0.5 per­cent­age point more than planned this year.

The doc­u­ment also lays out prin­ci­ples on how to strengthen dif­fer­ent types of army. It does not, how­ever, con­tain a pro­vi­sion on universal con­scrip­tion and only states that de­ci­sions on the in­tro­duc­tion of universal con­scrip­tion would be made in 2022. The agree­ment will also com­mit lead­ers to en­sure proper fund­ing for in­tel­li­gence ser­vices and cy­ber se­cu­rity ca­pa­bil­i­ties. «This na­tional agree­ment is in force un­til 2030 and will be im­ple­mented through con­stant ac­tiv­ity of state in­sti­tu­tions and the adop­tion of le­gal acts, ir­re­spec­tive of elec­tion cy­cles, cam­paigns, results and changes in the po­lit­i­cal gov­ern­ment,» the doc­u­ment reads.

Po­lit­i­cal par­ties signed the lat­est agree­ment on de­fence and se­cu­rity pol­icy in 2014 soon af­ter the an­nex­a­tion of Crimea by Rus­sia, and its key pro­vi­sion to in­crease de­fence spend­ing to 2 per cent GDP is set to be im­ple­mented this year.

There were at­tempts early this year to sign a new agree­ment but they failed due dis­agree­ments on fur­ther in­crease in de­fence spend­ing.

How­ever, some of the par­ties did not em­brace the idea, call­ing the pro­posed com­mit­ments «in­ad­e­quate».

Some of the lead­ers, like Gin­tau­tas Paluckas, the chair­man of the Lithua­nian So­cial Demo­cratic Party, says they re­main such in the new doc­u­ment.

«The ex­pected com­mit­ments are in­ad­e­quate, con­sid­er­ing that the com­po­si­tion of fu­ture gov­ern­ments and leg­is­la­ture is sub­ject to change over the course. The sec­ond thing we all un­der­stand well that the eco­nomic cy­cle will change (sooner or later). We will not see a sit­u­a­tion where ev­ery­thing keeps grow­ing,» Paluckas said. Ac­cord­ing to him, the So­cial Democrats would sup­port the idea of al­lot­ting a higher share of GDP to al­ter­na­tive mil­i­tary ser­vice in so­cial sphere.

«We al­ways look for agree­ments, but the pro­posal the way it is now will not re­ceive our sup­port,» Paluckas ac­cen­tu­ated. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of other par­ties main­tained that, al­beit sup­port­ing the draft in gen­eral, they had re­marks and their own ideas as to how to im­prove it.

Rasa Juknevičienė, a Con­ser­va­tive MP, called the draft «very lit­tle am­bi­tious». «As a party, we are not against it, how­ever we be­lieve that the de­fence bud­get ought to be in­creased a lot more rapidly…Nev­er­the­less it is bet­ter that than the pre­vi­ous pro­pos­als,» Juknevičienė said. Ac­cord­ing to here, there should be more un­der­stand­ing (of the is­sue of de­fence), more dis­cus­sions. She also wishes that the par­lia­men­tar­i­ans were briefed on de­fence is­sues by the mil­i­tary chiefs, the De­fence min­is­ter him­self.

«If were saw this hap­pen­ing, then all the party lead­ers would un­der­stand the threats. Now we see that some of them do not (un­der­stand them),» the MP ac­cen­tu­ated. The leader of the party Or­der and Jus­tice, Remigi­jus Že­maitaitis, said he did not have enough time to get ac­quainted with the pro­posal «thor­oughly», but promised to sign it if the party‘s pro­pos­als are con­sid­ered. He wants a big­ger at­ten­tion to the needs of re­serve troops and bet­ter in­te­grate ed­u­ca­tion and de­fence.

«That a dis­cus­sion of the kind is tak­ing place is very good though,» he noted. Mean­while, Valde­maras To­maševskis, the leader of the Elec­toral Ac­tion of Poles- the Union of Chris­tian Fam­i­lies, main­tained that the party would sup­port such an agree­ment if 2.5 per cent of the mil­i­tary spend­ing go for Lithua­nian mil­i­tary in­dus­try.

«If we in­vest the money in Lithua­nia, then we have one story. But if we buy weapons from other coun­tries, thus con­tribut­ing to their economies, then such agree­ment raises doubts,» the Poles‘ leader said. He also ad­mit­ted he needed more time to re­view the pro­pos­als.

Eu­geni­jus Gentvi­las, the leader of Lithua­nian Lib­er­als (Lithua­nia’s Lib­eral Move­ment), also was in favour of the agree­ment. «As a mat­ter of fact, we were among the first to sup­port a sim­i­lar doc­u­ment rolled out last year. Now we are again ready to sign it, how­ever, I’d ask all to give us a lit­tle bit more time to re­view it,» he is quoted as say­ing.

Ged­im­i­nas Kirk­i­las, the chair­man of Lithua­nia’s So­cial Demo­cratic Labour Party, also was pos­i­tive of the doc­u­ment.

«It is very im­por­tant po­lit­i­cally to sign it now,» he said.

Ramū­nas Kar­bauskis, the leader of the rul­ing Lithua­nian Farm­ers and Greens Union, also sup­ports the draft agree­ment. «We be­lieve that in­vest­ments in de­fence should grow along with the en­sur­ing of our ci­ti­zens’ so­cial needs. This is nec­es­sary to make our peo­ple safe eco­nom­i­cally and se­cu­rity-wise,» Kar­bauskis said. Saldžiū­nas, of Delfi.lt, told BNN that se­cu­rity chal­lenges come not only from pri­mary mil­i­tary threats, but also from a spec­trum of so­cial chal­lenges.

«Speak­ing of non-mil­i­tary threats, so­ciale­co­nomic sit­u­a­tion may be un­der threat due to many fac­tors, like so­cial in­jus­tice, still mas­sive num­bers of em­i­gra­tion, that cre­ates many so­cial-mines for both present (skilled work­force, mil­i­tary-age men) and fu­ture (ag­ing pop­u­la­tion would rely more on so­cial se­cu­rity, that cre­ates a bur­den for present day work­ing age pop­u­la­tion and fu­ture gen­er­a­tion, that would have to pay higher taxes), this in the end may im­pair de­fen­sive po­ten­tial of a state,» he said. Saldžiū­nas again re­it­er­ated the fac­tor of Be­larus.

«If we talk mil­i­tary threats only, that could po­ten­tially in­volve Be­larus, since the mil­i­tary of this coun­try is at least par­tially ei­ther in­te­grated, air de­fence, in­tel­li­gence for ex­am­ple, into Rus­sian mil­i­tary struc­ture. Lithua­nia has the largest bor­der with Be­larus, since it can­not be ig­nored,» he said.

REUTERS/SCANPIX

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Latvia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.