Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) and Minister of the Interior Katri Raik (SDE) on Friday visited the point in Southeastern Estonia where the borders of Estonia, Latvia and Russia meet and where construction of Estonia's modern eastern border will begin.
Mr Ratas noted that Estonia's eastern border is also the external border of the EU and NATO, and that quality and the best possible use of money are paramount in its construction, according to government spokespeople.
"The country's best experts, who are working closely among themselves, have been brought in to draw up the procurements for the border construction," the prime minister said. "Our authorities have sufficient experience with the implementation of large-scale construction projects, and I am glad that these experiences are being utilised as well."
When it comes to combatting illegal border-crossing and smuggling, criminals are employing increasingly state-of-the-art solutions, and the assets and infrastructure at the disposal of the state has to be one step ahead of those in the criminal world, he continued.
According to Ms Raik, the first procurement for a contract for border construction will be announced at the end of the month.
"Construction of the border is expensive but extremely important when it comes to security," she added.
Construction of Estonia's eastern border is estimated to cost approximately €190 million at current prices; the precise costs will be determined in the tenders.
"Current estimates, made prior to the procurement, confirm that the price will remain in the range we currently know," Ms Raik added.
"Nobody doubts that Estonia needs a safe external border," said PPA Director General Elmar Vaher. "The question, however, is what is the optimal price of this safety. Test sections meant for testing various solutions showed that building the border on difficult terrain will be a challenge and an expensive project simultaneously. Construction will take place on a more than 300km section of the border that will also require electricity supply as well as technical equipment on top of infrastructure."
According to Mr Vaher, construction of the border is not a project meant to create the illusion of security by putting up a fence and being amazed by what could be achieved with so little money. "Construction of the border is one of the biggest safety, security and construction projects for Estonia to date — in order for it to be safe for people to live in Estonia," he explained.
Construction to begin at three-way border point
During their visit, the ministers were offered an overview of the current border construction situation and taken to visit the point where the borders of Estonia, Latvia and Russia meet. Mr Ratas and Ms Raik also visited Luhamaa Border Guard Station, where they reviewed the border guards' work conditions and equipment as well as talked to members of the staff.
Construction of Estonia's land border will begin from the point where the Estonian, Latvian and Russian borders meet and be carried out in two or three parts. The temporary border line, which is what Estonia's eastern border is called in absence of a ratified border treaty between Estonia and Russia, has by now been marked and cleared of trees, and the PPA is currently drawing up a procurement for the construction of the border from the three-way border point up to the Luhamaa border checkpoint.
The experience gained with the construction of the first section will be utilised by officials, experts and builders in the organisation of subsequent tenders and construction.
Editor: Aili Vahtla