TALLINN – On Tuesday, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Estonian border guard, President Alar Karis hammered a commemorative nail into the pole of the flag of the border guard authority, saying that the border is our first line of defense and needs attention more than at any time in the 31 years following the restoration of independence.
"It is from our borders that the Republic of Estonia and the security of the Republic of Estonia begin. Thus, Estonia's border and its protection is one of the mainstays of our statehood, because without a border, a country would have neither sovereignty nor territorial integrity," the head of state said.
The president noted that Estonia has already strengthened border controls in response to the heightened threat we feel after the start of Russia's war of aggression in Ukraine. Strengthening situational awareness at the border, rapid construction of border infrastructure, and cooperation and information exchange with neighboring countries in the north, south and west are also crucial, he said.
"We already know that Russia is prepared to use migratory pressure against EU and NATO countries, similar to the Belarus-led hybrid attack against Poland, Lithuania and Latvia," Karis said.
"On a daily basis, our task is to deal with war refugees from Ukraine. These are often people left without a home and loved ones who need our help and support. At the same time, as a member of the Schengen area, we have the obligation to ensure that the Schengen external border holds, to prevent illegal border crossings and to distinguish between refugees and criminals or people from the enemy's special services," he said.
Karis emphasized that the continuous and effective implementation of these tasks is of the utmost importance for the security of Estonia and Europe as a whole, and described Estonian border guards as hardworking, professional and dedicated.