Brig. Gen. Peeter Hoppe, who is leaving his post as commander of the general staff for a position in NATO, said in an interview that Latvian defense capacity has still plenty of room for development.
Asked about the Latvian armed forces, Hoppe said that the southern neighbor should seriously consider raising its defense spending, reported Valgamaalane.
"Although its population is twice as large as Estonia's, defense spending is below 1 percent [of GDP] - in absolute terms, the amount is certainly not 350 million euros, as it is in Estonia,” Hoppe said.
"Therefore a country twice the size is spending much less on national defense. Honestly, this is noticed in NATO and everywhere. That's where all of the problems begin. If you don't allocate funds, you are sending the message in your country that military issues are not important,” Hoppe said.
Estonia has pleased its military partners by becoming one of the only countries in the alliance to satisfy the NATO requirement of bringing military spending to 2 percent of GDP, which Latvia plans to comply with by 2020.
On the other hand, advocates of higher defense spending have been critical of Latvia, with critics saying that Estonia's biggest security vulnerability is Latvia, as it leaves Estonia's southern border "defenseless."