Official ponders if all Estonia's southeastern border points need stay open
In light of current realities, looking at reducing border crossing options on Estonia's southeastern frontier is needed, with the main focus on the Koidula road checkpoint, Ministry of the Interior Deputy Secretary General Veiko Kommussaar wrote in an opinion piece published by daily Postimees Thursday.
Kommusaar, who holds the internal security portfolio, wrote (link in Estonian) in his Postimees piece that in the past 10 years, the volume of people passing through the Luhamaa checkpoint has been consistently higher than that of Koidula.
"However, we must now ponder whether, at a time when Russia has once again exposed its true colors in such a brutal way, we want the number of border crossings to be comparable with those of the past, or whether we should confine ourselves to what is absolutely necessary," Kommussaar wrote.
"For this reason, the question arises as to whether it is reasonable for a state to keep border crossing points in close proximity to one another open around the clock, when the number of border crossings is steadily falling. For instance, the Luhamaa and Koidula border crossing points are located less than 40km from each other, plus the still under renovation Saatse border crossing point is close by," he went on.
Estonia has a total of five border checkpoints currently open to international traffic on its eastern border with Russia – three for road traffic and two for rail, plus two, two-way on-foot crossings open to residents of Estonia and Russia, though one of these, Narva-2, has been temporarily closed since last November.
Much of Estonia's eastern border follows water courses, and the Narva checkpoint(s) allow, for instance, Russian citizens resident in the town or Estonia as a whole, to cross over. In the southeast, the border is a land one, albeit in a more sparsely-populated area of the country, while constructing a proper border infrastructure with fencing, surveillance etc. to replace the often not very clear boundary there has been ongoing for several years.
Estonia has two other borders, with friendly nations, a land frontier to the south, with Latvia, and a maritime border with Finland to the north. All three countries are in the EU and the Schengen Area.
Follow ERR News on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an update!
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mait Ots