Government approves decision to close Silene crossing point on Belarusian border

  • 2023-09-19
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Considering the growing pressure of illegal immigration from Belarus, the government on Tuesday decided to close the Silene border crossing point on the border with this neighbor country.

The Ministry of the Interior indicated earlier that illegal immigration has practically trebled in a short period of time.

In order to ensure that persons have a real possibility to enter Latvia and submit asylum applications in as short period of time as possible, only one border crossing point - in Silene - should be shut down.

Also, in order not to significantly affect freight traffic, as well as urgently needed journeys related to work, humanitarian reasons, force majeure, the border crossing point in Paternieki will continue to operate.

On average, 625 persons enter Latvia and 605 persons leave through the Silene border crossing point per day. On average, 87 trucks enter and 85 trucks leave per day.

The closure of the Silene border crossing point will facilitate the reallocation of resources to the "green" border.

"At the same time, it is also considered that by reducing the number of persons crossing the Latvian-Belarusian border, the related risks are also reduced. It should be noted that Belarus' open support for the war against Ukraine is seen as an additional risk factor and a possible motivation for Belarus to continue its efforts to destabilize the situation on its border with Latvia," the Ministry of the Interior stated in the annotation to the draft resolution.

Currently, there are two legal border checkpoints on roads and one on railways. Three border crossing points remain closed due to Belarus' aggressive behavior in sending illegal immigrants to Latvia.

Interior Minister Rihards Kozlovskis (New Unity) told journalists following the government meeting that the closure of the Silene border crossing point will make around 50 border guards available for border protection tasks. 

The Silene border crossing point will be closed as soon as Prime Minister Evika Silina (New Unity) signs the government decree, which she is expected to do today. 

Due to the pressure of illegal immigration, from August 11 until February 10, 2024, border surveillance will be reinforced in several administrative territories bordering Belarus. In view of the rapidly growing hybrid threat on the Latvian-Belarusian border, the State Border Guard is mobilizing additional border guards to strengthen the protection of the external state border. The Border Guard has also requested additional support from the National Armed Forces (NAF) and the State Police.