Lithuania adopts legal changes to streamline defence in wartime

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On Tuesday, the Lithuanian parliament endorsed new mobilisation and martial law declaration procedures.

The adopted laws define procedures and legal grounds for the declaration and recall of martial law and military mobilisation, as well as status and composition of the armed forces. The legislation package will come into force in January 2021.

“The existing martial law legislature was adopted 20 years ago. Since then, Lithuania has become an EU and NATO member, other geopolitical changes have taken place. The existing law doesn’t reflect these changes,” said Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis.

The new laws are aimed at creating legal regulations that would cover all important areas of state and public life during the period of mobilisation and martial law, clearly define the powers of officials in charge of state defence, and would allow to make swift decisions, the country’s Defence Ministry said in a statement.

According to Karoblis, the previous legislation, adopted in 2000, defined only fragmented regulation of issues important during wartime, did not clearly define defence officials’ powers or status of members of the armed forces.

Some of the old provisions also did not match the international and EU law, the minister said.

“[The new bill] defines the powers of leading officials, including the president, the chief of defence, as well as the powers of other persons and institutions during wartime,” Karoblis said.

“They include the government, the national defence minister, the municipal administration director, and war commandant,” he added.

The bill provides for launching armed defence immediately after the signing of the presidential decree or a Seimas resolution.

The composition of the armed forces was also updated.

It now includes the army, the State Border Guard Service, the VIP Protection Department, the Public Security Service, the combat units of the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union, with the additional inclusion of the military intelligence under the Defence Ministry.

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