Lithuanian parliament endorses extending military conscription

One bill, put forward by the Labour Party’s Artūras Paulauskas, called for military draft in 2020-2021 and was supported by 74 MPs, while three voted against and 15 abstained. National Defence Minister Juozas Olekas was among the three detractors.

A second bill, on drafting young men between 19-26 to the army in 2021, was endorsed by 62 MPs, with one vote against and 30 abstentions, including by the defence minister.

The bills will now be sent to parliamentary committees and the government for opinion. Parliament, the Seimas, wants to vote on the project the second time next week.

Responding to geopolitical tensions in Eastern Europe, Lithuania decided to reinstate conscription this year, but only for five years. President Dalia Grybauskaitė, Parliamentary Speaker Loreta Graužinienė, Armed Force chief Lieutenant General Jonas Vytautas Žukas and several other leaders have said the measure should be extended indefinitely.

However, Defence Minister Olekas believes the decision is premature and there needs to be more discussion about the future of the Lithuanian army.
“I think we should wait two-three years, to see how we can man army divisions with draftees and professional soldiers and then make the decision,” he said on Thursday.

Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius has also urged not to rush the issue and look into the needs of the army five years hence.

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