RIGA, July 11 (LETA) - Latvia must allocate more than 2 percent of its GDP to defense, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (Unity) told LETA.The minister said that the first session of the NATO summit in Brussels at which leaders of the Alliance’s member states debated the development of new defense capabilities, passed off in a positive and constructive atmosphere, which resulted in the adoption of all the draft agreements important for the Baltic states’ defense.Rinkevics said that the discussions on member states’ defense funding were serious but that “in the closed room the element of drama was less pronounced than in the public space”.“The discussions about the defense budget will not end with this summit. It is clear that Latvia will inevitably have to increase its defense spending, which currently is 2 percent of GDP. Larger investments are needed to ensure the strengthening of NATO and EU capabilities,” the minister said, adding that this is in Latvia’s interests. “Surely, someone will argue that mathematically we have met our commitment so now we should focus on diverting finance to other areas. But we live in a world where we have to take responsibility for our own security,” Rinkevics said. The foreign minister believes that negotiations on raising Latvia’s defense budget should be started while working on the 2019 government budget, although it does not necessarily mean that the defense budget has to increased already in the next couple of years. “This is an election year when we are going to hear plenty of promises and criticism but raising the defense budget is a serious issue. If we had decided in 2015 to raise the defense budget to 2 percent of GDP by 2020 and not 2018, Latvia would not feel as confident at the current NATO summit,” Rinkevics said. As reported, the leaders of NATO’s member states are meeting in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday to address issues like deterrence, relations with the EU and Russia, the fight against terrorism and burden-sharing.
Published: 11.07.2018 20:23
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