Two thirds of Lithuanians support raising defence funding

DELFI / Domantas Pipas

One in ten respondents did not given an opinion on the matter, while another 23% disagreed, the ministry said on Monday.

“We can see that security and defence matter greatly to the society of Lithuania – the vast majority of the citizens understand the importance of increasing defence budget and the collective defence commitments to other members of NATO,” Defence Minister Juozas Olekas said in a press release.

In response to the Russian actions in Ukraine, Lithuania has been raising its defence funding over the last years. Political parties represented in parliament have agreed to reach the 2% GDP defence spending target by 2020. This year’s defence budget stands at €574 million, which accounts for 1.48% of the GDP.

According to the poll, about 65% of the population would also support sending Lithuanian soldiers to international operations, if requested by NATO allies. Another 26% said Lithuania should not send troops to international operations, while 9% were undecided on the matter.

The poll also found that about 81% of Lithuanians support the country’s membership in NATO, with only one in ten of the opposite opinion.

Some 82% of those polled approve of permanent stationing of NATO forces in Lithuanian territory. About 72% think NATO should send more troops and military equipment to Lithuania, while 19% disagree and 9% are undecided.

“It is remarkable that an absolute majority of Lithuanian citizens have a positive opinion both on the Lithuanian Armed Forces, and NATO membership. It is particularly encouraging to know that people in Lithuania feel very positive towards our Allies. We may actually sense a really strong desire of the Lithuanian citizens to see our Allies involved in the security of Lithuania in an even more active fashion,” said Olekas.

The poll was commissioned by the Ministry of National Defence and carried out by public opinion polling company RAIT on December 5-16, 2015. The sample was 1,038 permanent residents of Lithuania aged 18–74. The margin of error is 3%.

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