Riga port passes Schengen inspection

  • 2006-07-10
  • By TBT staff
Port border controls at the Riga port have been given a positive evaluation by the Schengen assessment commission, which inspected the facility last Friday.

After inspecting the port, Schengen assessment commission inspector Henrik Warnhjelm told local media he was pleasantly surprised by the great progress made by Latvian border guards.

The Schengen assessment commission examined the performance of Latvian security and customs services.
Having arrived in the Riga port, the commission inspected the new diving equipment, weapons and armored vests of the Latvian National Border Guard.

"This gear is useful in finding cases of drug trafficking and checking technical problems, "said the Latvian National Border deputy chief Konstantins Sarigins.

The new equipment was paid for from the Schengen Facility and no money from the national budget was used for the purpose, said Gatis Brokans, an inspector of the inspection and control unit of the Sea-going Vessels Authority.

The Schengen assessment results are expected in September this year. If the assessment proves positive, the Schengen Treaty might be signed in January next year and Latvia could become a Schengen member state in 2008.

The treaty is an open border policy between European countries that allows for a common visa, fewer passport controls and easier flow of transport and freight. Its name is borrowed from the town in Luxembourg in which the agreement was first signed in 1985. Baltic countries remain a signatory to the treaty, but are not yet full participants.

Warnhjelm told the press that there was room for improvement in every country inspected by the commission but in general the security services had worked hard to make the preparations.

"We will assess the infrastructure on the whole as only that way it is possible to ascertain whether the country is prepared for joining the list of Schengen member states," said the leading expert.

Sarigins said that "the assessment commission was friendly in general and inquired about really vital matters. They want not only consultations but to see us in action."