“Prime Minister, I want to commend your government for your leadership on defense spending. And your plan to reach NATO’s 2 percent benchmark – 2 percent of GDP – by 2018,” Stoltenberg said at a joint news conference after meeting with Lithuania’s Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis in Brussels.
“Fairer burden-sharing is essential to the long-term strength of our Alliance and the security of our people, and Lithuania is setting an example for other Allies to follow,” he added.
In the NATO chief’s words, “Lithuania makes important contributions to NATO” by sending troops to Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo.
Stoltenberg also congratulated Lithuania on the upcoming Independence Day celebrated on Feb. 16.
“With NATO, you will never lose that independence again,” said the Alliance’s secretary general.
Lithuania’s current defense budget currently accounts for 1.8 percent of the GDP, with plans to reach the NATO margin of 2 percent next year.
A few weeks ago, the parliamentary National Security and Defense Committee initiated an updated agreement among political parties on defense spending, which aims to increase the defense spending to 2.5 percent of the GDP in 2020. The agreement is yet to be signed.
Lithuania has been raising defense spending since the 2014 Russian intervention in Ukraine and military actions in the Baltic Sea region.