With Lithuania’s next general election due in October, the parliament has shown rare solidarity in signing a defence policy agreement ahead of the NATO summit to be held in Chicago from 20 – 21 May 2012.
All the major parties including the Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats, Liberal and Center Union, Liberal Movement, Social Democratic Party of Lithuania, Labor Party, and the Order and Justice Party put their respective monikers on the agreement stating that they will gradually increase funding for national defence in the long-term to 2% of GDP.
The agreement also stated that Lithuania was committed to working towards regional stability, continue the fight against terrorism and do their part in guarding against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Emanuelis Zingeris said at the signing that Lithuania was indeed facing economic hardship, as is the rest of the world, but geopolitical stability was still a major national priority and they had an obligation to their partners and allies.
Irena Degutiene, Speaker of the Seimas expressed regret that the Lithuanian Peasant and Greens Union and the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania did not sign the agreement.
Ramunas Karbauskis, Chairman of the Lithuanian Peasant and Greens Union, said that at a time when school funding was being slashed and schools closed, and with the mass migration of people leaving the country, doubling the defence budget is ludicrous as soon there will be no-one left to defend.
Lithuania currently spends about 0.96% of GDP on defence, and in signing the document promise to pay more in the future.
NATO has criticised Lithuania over its shortfall in defence spending, a point made by John Cain on his recent visit to Lithuania.
In fact back in 2004 Lithuania political parties made the same promise to be up to 2% of GDP in 2005 – 2008, but never made it then either.
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