This week, retired Vice Admiral Tarmo Kõuts and Ülo Vooglaid, professor emeritus of Tartu University, started a petition for the restoration of the Estonian Border Guard as a separate entity. Minister of the Interior Hanno Pevkur says, however, that manning the 136 kilometers of border territory with Russia is unrealistic,and technical surveillance is a much better option.
"In my opinion, one strong police and border guard board is more effective," Pevkur told ETV's "Aktuaalne Kaamera" Thursday, but added that he is willing to discuss the proposal.
"We can always discuss different proposition. The question is, however, what we would win or lose from it," he said.
He added that the changes in support structures has increase the pay of the border guards.
"I could ask in return whether having two separate boards would make their cooperation more efficient? If the border guards need police assistance or the police have a family row on their hands a there is a border guard nearby, who could help at the scene, would the cooperation between them be as efficient as it is now or would it not?" he said.
Kõuts, who was the head of the Border Guard between 1993-2000, and Vooglaid have recently started a petition for the restoration of the border guard as a separate presence. They said the number of guards on the eastern border is much lower than what is prescribed by the European Union's Schengen Agreement, and the control line has still not been marked down.
The government decided on Thursday to allocate 29 million euros to purchase remote surveillance equipment for the border over the next four to five years.
"If we look back to 2009 or, moreover, to the time of Tarmo Kõuts, there was practically no technical survaillance at all. The use of radars was episodic at best. Today we have the entire sea border controlled by radars and have remote surveillance of the land border," he said.
Both the minister and the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) said that the number of guards has not decreased since the joint board was formed, but today they have higher salaries and better equipment. The Border Guard employed 683 people in 2009, the number today is 682. The average pay has gone up by 200 euros, reaching 925 euros this year. It should rise by another 165 euros next year, said the PPA.
All of the 13 guard stations are still operational, although their management was converged to five stations in October.
Every guard now has personal equipment. The armory includes MP-5 submachine guns and the Makarov pistols will be exchanged for Walther-style pistols soon.
Work on the control line began in the end of October. The line should be cleared by the spring 2015.