Estonia to Establish Border Control Task Force ({{commentsTotal}})

Estonian Minister of the Interior Hanno Pevkur announced in ETV's "Foorum" on Tuesday night that the government plans to establish a new border control task force to carry out special operations.

"Today we have a clear understanding that in addition to regular border control, we will establish a special task force," said Pevkur, who added that the force will carry out special risk-assessment based operations.

Pevkur said the first location established for the task force will be in Piusa, which is in southeast Estonia near Võru. Narva, the third-largest city in Estonia on the northeastern border of Russia will be the second. There might be a third station put in Tallinn, he said.

According to Pevkur, the new units will be established in 2015 and this has already been agreed with the Police and Border Guard Board.

"One unit will be based in Piusa guard station, which will be rebuilt next year, and the other in Narva, so in the two most critical areas," Pevkur said.

"They will react to border incidents and undertake special missions based on risk assessment," said the minister, who promised that the task force will be supplied with the best possible equipment.

Pevkur did not say how much the new task force will cost to the taxpayers, as such information is not public. "I cannot say how many employees there will be. Let's just say that it costs a lot."

Aaviksoo: no point in overreacting

The former Minister of Defense and IRL party member Jaak Aaviksoo said during the program that some kind of rapid response capacity and special training is indeed needed after taking into account the changed security situation in Eastern Europe. At the same time, there is no point in overreacting.

"We have an incident in the public eye ... but whether we have one, two, three or four pairs of boots per kilometer of the border makes little difference to defense. This is not something we should go through with, taking into account that these people will be taken from somewhere else," Aaviksoo said.

He added that if there is a real danger for an armed conflict, then there is no way to stop it on the border at present.

"I think that we should think calmly about what we need to do there. We must be informed on what is going on, we must have technical surveillance and if there are blind spots, invest in them, and not overreact in the process," Aaviksoo said.

The current Minister of Defense, Sven Mikser, said that in principle it is necessary to supply the border with surveillance devices and make sure that the border agency has enough manpower to allow for sufficient control to be exercised in the first place.

Mikser also said that the recent focus on Russia's "hybrid warfare" indicates that Estonia needs a very broad approach to defense.

"We won't be helped by people walking up and down the border and the production of camera footage alone, but by all relevant structures knowing their role, knowing the legal space in which they operate, that the police does its duty, the armed forces and the Defense League do their duty, and the border guards do theirs," Mikser said.

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