Latvia will allocate 1.4 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), or 350 million euros (about 402.5 million U.S. dollars), for defense next year, said Latvian Defense Minister Raimonds Bergmanis in an interview to LNT television, Baltic News Service reported.
He reminded that this year the allocation for defense amounted to 1 percent of GDP or 254 million euros.
The minister said that there are many needs that require additional allocations, including increase of staff, development of infrastructure and air defense systems.
"Of course, we will have a bigger army, but it is not easy to ensure it," he said.
Bergmanis also noted that this year the competition for the National Defense Academy has been higher than in previous years.
He said that currently there are about 5,000 troops in the professional military service, and in the near future this number will be increased to 6,000.
By 2018 Latvia plans to increase defense sector's budget to the level recommended by NATO , i.e., 2 percent of GDP.
Latvia is a member of NATO since 2004. (1 euro = 1.15 U.S. dollars)