Estonia's border is its first line of defense and now more than ever in the 31 years since the restoration of independence requires close attention, President Alar Karis said Tuesday, on the centennial of the founding of the Estonian border guard.
The president praised the modern-day border guard for their professionalism and efficiency, saying: "Estonia remaining open to those who come here legally, and closed to those who do not have the right to to do so, or who are a threat to our security."
"It is at our border that the Republic of Estonia and the security of that republic begin," he went on, via a press release.
"This makes Estonia's border and its protection one of the foundations of our statehood, since without a border, the country would have neither sovereignty nor territorial integrity," Karis continued.
"We already know that Russia is ready to use migration pressure against the EU and NATO states, similar to the hybrid attack initiated by Belarus against Poland, Lithuania and Latvia," he went on, referring to the summer 2021 migrant crisis.
"On a daily basis, our task is to deal with war refugees from Ukraine," President Karis added, noting that this must also be balanced with Schengen Area responsibilities in preventing illegal border crossings and distinguishing those in genuine need from those without it, and particularly those with nefarious intentions or whose activities relate to the security organs of hostile powers.
The Estonian state has already strengthened its border control in response to the heightened threat which followed Russia's invasion of ukraine, the president noted, while strengthening situational awareness at the border, the rapid construction of border infrastructure and cooperation and information exchange with neighboring countries to the north, south and west, remain crucial, he said, both for Estonia and the whole of Europe.
The head of state had attended a formal ceremony (pictured) in which he drove a nail into the border guard's flagpole,
Estonia's eastern border lies somewhat to the west of the original agreed frontier as set out in the 1920 Treaty of Tartu, concluded with the fledgling Soviet state. While much of the eastern border follows bodies of water, the far southeast is a land border and had for a long time not been clearly demarcated, though border fences and other infrastructure projects are now ongoing.
The border guard was merged with the police to form the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) over a decade ago.
Editor: Andrew Whyte
Source: Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia