Defense Minister: budget to allow 'development', not 'survival' of armed forces

Defense Minister Raimonds Vējonis reacted in positive fashion to the passing of the 2015 budget, saying in a statement that it "will contribute to the development of the Armed Forces."

Next year, the Defense Ministry's allocation will be €253.8m euros, up by 18% on the €214m allocated to the ministry in the 2014 budget - though spending was boosted further as the crisis in Ukraine unfolded.

In 2015 spending on defense will be equivalent to 1% of GDP, which while an improvement is still only half the level NATO demands of its members.

"Strengthening our national defense capacity is our top priority, which is clearly marked in 2015, in the growth of the state budget," Vējonis said.

"This is no longer a survival budget, but rather a development budget. Now our task is to dynamically develop the armed forces to the level necessary to ensure the protection of the state," he said.

On July 3 Saeima adopted the Law on the Financing of National Defense, which is aimed at raising defense spending to 2% of GDP by 2020 to ensure the protection of 2% of GDP in 2020, each year, gradually increasing defense funding in relation to GDP.

After rising to 1% of GDP in 2015, it will hit 1.1% in 2016 and 1.3% in 2017.

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