TALLINN – Effective work in guarding the Estonian-Russian border means not only state-of-the-art infrastructure, but also the best opportunities for servicing the infrastructure and the best conditions for the personnel serving on the border, Estonia's Interior Minister Lauri Laanemets said while visiting the border city of Narva on Monday.
He said that in order to carry out its functions, the border guard base of Narva, which is responsible for the coordination of activities and control of the work of the operations service in guarding the border along Narva river, needs the renovation of the control center and the living quarters as soon as possible.
"The accelerated construction of Estonia's eastern border has also been identified as a priority in the recent coalition agreement, with an analysis and proposals set out for the renovation of the control center of the eastern border. This means that we hope to start the work as soon as possible," said Laanemets, chairman of the Estonian Social Democratic Party.
The minister said that working on the border and modernizing the border are important because we have a big neighbor that is becoming more and more aggressive. In addition, the border that Estonia has to guard is not our border alone, but external border of the entire European Union.
"It's a big responsibility. And, as I was reassured during my visit to the Narva base, Estonia's border holds. This is thanks to the good men and women who are doing their daily work at the border guard bases. But only as long as the staffing allows. The prerequisite for a secure border is a solid presence of the state, both through increased staffing and the motivation of the current staff. The state apparatus must be better represented in the region in all its structures," Laanemets said.
The minister also met with the mayor of Narva, with whom, among other things, the topic of the Narva tank monument was discussed.
"My position is clear: a new and more suitable location must be found for the Narva tank. The tank, which for residents of Estonia primarily symbolizes death, pain and suffering, has long ago discontinued to deserve the glory that has been bestowed on it, and such a controversial symbol does not fit into Estonia's urban space," he said.
"This is a matter of national importance and, as with many other national issues, it needs to be resolved in dialogue with the local community, and it needs to be done in a dignified way that does not offend local people," the minister emphasized.
He added that while the tank symbolizes destruction, the goal is to help rebuild Narva and bring new life to the city, which will be provided by a better living environment, education and health services.
"The state can help in these matters. For the people of Narva, the presence of the state should not only be connected to symbols and monuments, but also to the quality of everyday life, dignity and livelihood," Laanemets said.