TALLINN - The Estonian government has decided to temporarily restore border control on the Estonian-Latvian border to assist Ukrainian refugees.
By the government's order, temporary border control has been established on the Estonian-Latvian border for the purpose of better organizing the entry into the country of the people fleeing from the war in Ukraine and their first contact with the Estonian state, spokespeople for the Ministry of the Interior said.
Minister of the Interior Kristian Jaani said that by restoring temporary border control, the state will assist Ukrainians fleeing from the war already on its border.
"The checks may entail slight delays and we apologize for that in advance, but our goal is absolutely not to be disrespectful towards Ukrainian citizens. On the contrary, it will enable us to get a better overview of arrivals, provide the necessary information already at the border and direct them towards vital services. We've been doing much in the past few weeks to make sure that the Ukrainians arriving in Estonia should feel welcome and safe," Jaani said.
The minister added that the government's order applies to both Ukrainian citizens as well as their family members.
"In this regard, it is important to highlight that based on the law, we deem spouses and lineal ascendants or descendants -- parents and children -- as family members, regardless of their nationality," he said.
Jaani said that in order to get more detailed information, war refugees will be advised at the border inspection point to turn to the newly opened refugee reception center in Tallinn.
"The center provides special services, assistance and information that people who have arrived in Estonia as refugees may need," the minister said.
Director general of the Police and Border Guard Board Elmar Vaher said that over the past four days, police officers near the internal border in southern Estonia have been in contact with over 1,000 Ukrainians, including those passing through Estonia, residing here as well as fleeing from the war.
"Temporary restoration of border control helps us better ensure security. We can also record the contact information of the Ukrainians arriving here to be able to provide them with advice , guidance and recommendations later. Our task is to do everything in our power to help the people fleeing from the horrors of war," Vaher said.
Temporary border checks are restored in four border inspection points on the Estonian-Latvian border, three of which are in Valga and one in Ikla, for ten days for the time being. Estonian and EU citizens, too, must be prepared to show an ID document when crossing the border. During the temporary reintroduction of border control between Estonia and Latvia, crossing the state border in areas between border crossing points is allowed in the usual way.