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Government decides to complete eastern border as planned

A test section of Estonia's modern eastern border with Russia.
A test section of Estonia's modern eastern border with Russia. Source: (Police and Border Guard Board)

The government decided on Thursday to go ahead with the completion of new infrastructure along the eastern border despite the massively higher costs.

While the project was initially expected to cost some €79 million, in early February the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) submitted a correction to the Minister of the Interior with a new estimate: €197 million, or €118 million more than initially budgeted.

Though this number is also just an estimate, as the final cost will depend on the outcome of its construction tenders.

The Estonian border needs to be defended, maintained, and guarded, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas said. The fact that mistakes were made when the cost of the new infrastructure was calculated doesn't change this fact, the prime minister added.

According to Minister of the Interior Andres Anvelt (SDE), the fixed-up border will keep illegal movements across the border in check and also help prevent illegal cross-border trade.

Anvelt also stresses the importance of knowing what is going on along the border at any given time. The project includes sensors as well as drones that will be used for the close surveillance of the border. "Estonia's eastern border is also the external border of the European Union and NATO, and we can't compromise when it comes to how it is built," Anvelt said.

To continue the decision-making processes related to the project, the government wants the Ministry of the Interior to ask EU border agency Frontex for an assessment of the efficiency of the planned technical and surveillance systems.

The government also assigned the task to the ministry to commission an independent audit of the project's volume and costs. State real estate management company Riigi Kinnisvara AS (RKAS) will also have to submit a similar report.

Options to get funding for some part of the new border infrastructure out of the European Union's funds are also being considered, ERR's Estonian news reported.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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