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Additional €50 million needed for Estonia's eastern border infrastructure

Koidula border checkpoint in Setomaa, Southeastern Estonia. September 1, 2023.
Koidula border checkpoint in Setomaa, Southeastern Estonia. September 1, 2023. Source: Aili Vahtla/ERR

Around €50 million will be needed to complete the infrastructure on Estonia's border with Russia. The funds would be used for the purchase and installation of surveillance equipment, said Director General of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) Egert Belitšev.

"Now, we have some money for the surveillance equipment for the land section. But if we are talking about the entire border, which runs from the point where the Estonian, Latvian and Russian borders meet to Narva-Jõesuu, then we do not have the finances to cover [all] the surveillance equipment right now," Belitšev told ERR on Tuesday.

"If we are talking about the work that is still pending, such as the surveillance equipment, and also, for example, the construction of the border in the previously planned sections, which was intended to be land on which no infrastructure has currently been planned, then the estimated amount required is €50 million," he said.

However, the exact price will ultimately depend on the market situation, Belitšev added, stressing that the €50 million estimate is based on calculations made with current prices in mind. "If we start the works in a year or a year and a half, the prices may have changed and so those amounts could also change," he said.

The PPA chief said that the agency had asked for additional money from the European Union in order to build the border infrastructure, but had been unsuccessful in obtaining it. This means more work will be necessary to find the funds for the required surveillance equipment.

Situation calm at Narva border crossing point

When asked about the current situation at the Narva border crossing point, Belitšev said things remain stable. "There is no greater migration pressure now than there has been in recent weeks.. That is to say, there are only a few small groups of people trying to cross the border illegally. There have been no significant changes at the border at the moment."

Belitšev also said Russia has informed Estonia that from February 1, they will begin their own renovation work at the border crossing point, which means that it will not be possible to cross by vehicle. The work is are expected to take between a year and eighteen months, he added.

Commenting on the situation at the Koidula border crossing in Setomaa, Belitšev said it was currently open and operating in the same way as all other border crossing points.

The PPA chief added that its potential closure, which has been subject to some discussion, would be a political decision.

"The needs of the local population and the impact on them also has to be taken into account. However, in the long term, we also have to consider the fact that there is less traffic at the borders in general nowadays due to the sanctions against the Russian Federation, and we do not recommend Estonian citizens travel to the Russian Federation," he said.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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