Latviski English По-русски
Monday 18.03.2019 | Name days: Ilona, Adelīna

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

(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

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 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, 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, social-economic 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.

Leave a reply

Latvian prime minister urges sorting the system, not raising taxes

A number of sectors require reforms to avoid raising taxes to increase revenue, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš during a meeting of Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee on Monday, 18 March.

Stoltenberg calls NATO the most successful alliance in world history

NATO is the strongest, most successful alliance in history, wrote NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in an article dedicated to the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Heavy rainfall in Indonesia causes floods and landslides; death toll reaches 77

Approximately 77 people have been killed in mountain villages hit by floods and landslides caused by intense rainfall in Indonesia’s Papua Province, according to the latest information reported by Indonesian authorities.

Number of job vacancies in Latvia up 33.4% in 2018

In 2018, there were 22.7 thousand job vacancies in Latvia, which is 5.7 thousand vacancies or 33.4 % more than in 2017.

Swedbank: more than 1,400 Latvian families purchased property in regions last year

In 2018, Swedbank had issued more than 1,400 loans for property purchases within 50 km radius around Riga. This is an average of six loans issued every work day, as reported by Swedbank representative Jānis Krops.

Minister: Latvia may require radical image change because of finance sector’s problems

Considering the problems in the country’s finance sector, it will be necessary to work on radically changing the country’s image, says Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

Riga Mayor’s wife suspected of dubious employed in public water supply company

For eight years Riga Mayor Nils Ušakovs’ office manager Iveta Strautiņa-Ušakova worked as a consultant for municipal water supply company Rīgas Ūdens, as reported by LTV investigative journalism programme De Facto.

Latvian Centre Party to take part in European Parliament elections

A list of candidates compiled by Centre Party from Latvia has been submitted for European Parliament elections. The list is composed of fifteen candidates. This makes it the fifth list of candidates to be submitted for EP elections in Latvia so far, as reported by Central Election Commission.

Air temperature in Latvia to stay positive this week; more precipitation expected

Weather will be dominated by cyclone activity this week. Wind speed will also increase in the country’s western parts in the first half of the week. At the end of the week, air temperature to become chilly at night, as reported by Latvian State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Week in Lithuania. N-plant invites bids for repository construction contract

Lithuania's Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, which was shut down a decade ago and is now being decommissioned, invited bids for the construction of a 100-million-euro near surface repository for low and intermediate level short-lived radioactive waste.

BNN summary of the week: when is Brexit? Estonia’s government worries; more problems with Rīgas satiksme

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Attempt; Decision; Investigation; Scandal; Legislation; Expectation.

Suspect in criminal case leaves post in Alkom-Trans

SIA Alkom-Trans chairman Aleksandrs Krjačeks, who is a suspect in a criminal case regarding SIA Rīgas satiksme’s procurements, has decided to step down, according to information from Lursoft.

Eurostat: Latvia had higher annual inflation than average in EU and Eurozone

In February 2019, Latvia’s inflation was higher than the average in European Union and Eurozone, according to data published by Eurostat on Friday, 15 March.

Harmony and New Harmony to compete for seats in European Parliament

Association of parties Alternative Party, which received only 0.34% support from voters in the recent Saeima elections, has decided to start in upcoming European Parliament elections with a new name – New Harmony, as reported by Latvijas Radio.

ABLV Bank’s liquidators recover assets worth EUR 37.938 million in February

In February 2019, liquidators of ABLV Bank had successfully recovered assets worth EUR 37.938 million, which is 21% less than a month prior, according to the annual account published in Latvian Herald.

Polish Catholic church reveals mass child sex abuse by clergy

The administration of the Polish Catholic Church has stated it has since 1990 registered child sex abuse affecting 625 underage victims by 382 clergymen. Poland's Catholic Church authorities revealed the data on Thursday, March 14.

Insurer: children receive 11% more injuries during school breaks

During school breaks the frequency at which children receive injuries is 11% higher when compared to the year’s average, according to data from BTA Baltic Insurance Company.

Survey: one-fifth of Latvian residents do not protect their data on mobile phones

Although modern smartphones have several security options that help protect user data, results of a survey by Samsung Electronics Baltics show that 19% of Latvian residents do not use any of those data protection options.

Estonia's Ratas rejects Verhofstadt's opinion on coalition with anti-migrant party

Belgian member of the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, who heads the parliament's Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group, has urged acting Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas not to build a government coalition with the anti-migrant Conservative People's Party of Estonia.

Opinion: Baltic residents have cooled down towards Russian-Ukrainian conflict

Ever since the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula five years ago it seems a ‘cooling process’ has begun among residents of Baltic States in relation to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, said University of Latvia researcher Mārtiņš Kaprāns in an interview to LNT programme Rīta Panorāma on Friday, 15 March.

New Zealand shaken by tragic terror attacks in mosques

40 people have lost their lives in New Zealand, where terror attacks have been committed in two mosques in the city Christchurch today, according to the country's government. The tragic events have taken place on Friday, March 15.

Minister: EC should not be allowed to cut financing to countries with low court independence

From the perspective of the European Union’s legislation and democracy, European Commission should not be given rights to halt funding only because EC thinks the rule of law is insufficient in some country, says Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

EU's Tusk to call for long delay of Brexit

European Council President Donald Tusk has said he will invited to EU leaders «to be open to a long extension» of the Brexit deadline, if the UK needs to rethink its strategy and get consensus after it decided to ask for a delay.

Weather to remain rainy in Latvia; air temperature expected above 0° C

At the end of the week, a cyclone will approach Latvia from Scandinavia’s side, which will bring rain and wet snow to many parts of Latvia, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Latvian Saeima votes to make mental healthcare more accessible

In the near future, it is planned to significantly improve accessibility of mental healthcare in Latvia. The goal is to provide residents with evidence-based, modern, quality mental healthcare. This is provided by the Plan to Improve Access to Mental Health Care for 2019-2020 approved announced at the State Secretaries meeting of Thursday, 14 March, as confirmed by Healthcare Ministry’s representative Anna Strapcāne.