Estonia and Latvia establish joint border committee

Estonian-Latvian border in Valga.
Estonian-Latvian border in Valga. Source: SCANPIX/Valgamaalane/Arvo Meeks

The government plans to approve an agreement on the maintenance of Estonia's border with Latvia, as well as establishing a joint committee with Latvia for maintaining the internal European Union border.

The move updates the current system which dates back to the 1990s, soon after the two countries became independent. Since then, both countries joined the EU (2004) and the related Schengen Area of free movement (2007).

The agreement, which does not require Riigikogu assent, according to BNS, would establish the procedure and division of maintaining the border and its boundary markers, define the joint committee, which is reportedly the most innovative aspect of the proposals, and its tasks, and update the border representatives tasks. 

A previous agreement dating from 1994 is to be superseded by the new agreement, BNS reports.

Maintenance of the Estonian-Latvian border so far has been based on the 1993 state border restoration agreement, whereby parties organized the maintenance of the sections of the border infrastructure they had developed.

The length of border Estonia has responsibility for comes to 170 kilometers (the entire border is 333 kilometers long, according to the CIA World Factbook).

The agreement is due to be signed by the two countries' interior ministers, most likely along with the Lithuanian interior minister in relation to the Latvian-Lithuanian border, later this year.

Other border maintenance activities include the upkeep of boundary markers and banks or shores within trans-border water bodies (such as Pupsi Järv, whose eastern shore is in Valga County, and western shore in Latvia), and clearing vegetation from the border strip, BNS reports.

The draft agreement concerning the maintenance of the Estonian-Latvian state border and the activity of border representatives between the governments of Estonia and Latvia does require Riigikogu ratification. Additionally, the implementation of the agreement requires neither changes to be made to Estonian law nor does it incur additional state budget costs.

Estonia also has a third country border with the Russian Federation, and a maritime border with an EU/Schengen country, Finland.

Latvia borders the Russian Federation and Belarus to the east, and Lithuania to the south.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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