Lithuanian parliament votes overwhelmingly in favour of restoring conscription

DELFI / Karolina Pansevič

Overwhelming majority, 112 lawmakers, backed proposed changes to the principle structure of the Lithuanian army and the marginal numbers of troops in the national defence system in 2015. Three MPs voted against and five abstained.

Under the bill, the general marginal numbers of troops will range from 16,840 to 21,960, compared to the previously approved range of 14,340-18,460.

And the number of conscripts will stand at 3000-3,500 a year.

National Defence Minister Juozas Olekas says the restoration of conscription will allow filling army units and train a reserve.

“We discussed the existing composition of the Lithuanian army during the last meeting of the State Defence Council and, having evaluated the existing geopolitical situation, we propose introducing the possibility to fill Lithuanian army units by inviting young men to mandatory military service,” the minister said, presenting the bill.

According to Olekas, the existing three-month basic military training propgramme does not allow fully manning the army. And only 600-800 professional troops can join the army every year.

It was previously reported that some army battalions are filled only 13 percent.

“The argument on the underfilling of army units is very serious, but the main reason why this decision is necessary is the preparation of an army reserve. Today we have peacetime strength of around 12,000, but we don’t have a sufficient number of properly trained troops who would be living the civilian life but would have military training and we could call them, if necessary, to the army and expand the forces three times (…). We need such a reserve of around 40,000 people, and now we have only 2,500, according to the chief of defence,” former national defence minister Rasa Juknevičienė said.

The selection process for mandatory military service will be stipulated by other legal acts. Some lawmakers on Thursday reproached the authors of the bill that these legal acts had not been submitted alongside the conscription bill.

The Seimas also on Thursday adopted a resolution ordering the government to draft amendments by 1 May, regulating the conscription process.

Lithuania’s State Defence Council had proposed reintroducing conscription for five years in response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. The country plans to draft 3,000-3,500 young men between 19 and 26 years for 9-month service every year.

Lithuania ended conscription in 2008.

PM suggests paying conscripts

Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius has suggested paying EUR 200 per month to future conscripts in addition to already-planned EUR 38 to be paid for daily expenses.

“We have suggested, of course the Ministry of National Defence has to do an analysis, that we could increase it by EUR 200 to increase the appeal for people to come and serve in the Lithuanian army. It would be around EUR 238,” the prime minister told journalists on Thursday.

He believes it would be an incentive for young men to serve.

Butkevičius also said he had ordered to prepare documentation on increasing pay for professional soldiers serving in the Lithuanian army, without elaborating.

Now in Lithuania, a junior private earns around EUR 600 and a captain is paid around EUR 1,000.

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