Interior ministers in Vilnius: Countries bordering Russia need bigger contribution from EU

  • 2023-10-27
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The interior ministers of the Baltic states, Poland, Finland, Norway and Ukraine noted at a meeting in Vilnius on Friday that the European Commission must contribute more to the security of countries bordering Russia.

The purpose of the meeting, which was also attended by Estonian Interior Minister Lauri Laanemets, was to intensify cooperation considering the current security situation in Europe. All the countries are united by a shared border with Russia and Belarus and the resulting similar risks and threat scenarios.

The ministerial meeting focused on border security, migration, challenges in the field of security, including ongoing armed conflicts and hybrid threats, civil protection, and support for Ukraine.

According to Laanemets, the central topic of the meeting ended up being the development of joint countermeasures in case of any attack affecting the borders.

"The goal could be a joint reaction of the countries in case of any orchestrated border incident -- joint measures to be implemented in such situations," the minister said.

A significant focus was also placed on civil protection, where the creation and use of the same standards throughout the region was discussed.

"We are united by geographical proximity, difficult neighbors and, as a result, many similar risks and threats. Bringing civil protection to the same standards would jointly enhance the capabilities of civil protection in the entire region -- even, for example, uniform meanings of siren signals or markings of places of shelter," Laanemets said.

At the end of the meeting, the ministers made a joint statement to the European Commission, urging the latter to invest more resources in ensuring the security of the region. According to Laanemets, the main goal of the appeal was to emphasize on the one hand the cooperation and common challenges of the countries of the region, as well as the desire to keep the problems concerning our region on the agenda of the European Union against the background of other crises.

As part of the visit, there was also a bilateral meeting with Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko, to whom Laanemets confirmed Estonia's unwavering support in the difficult fight in the war of aggression initiated by the Russian Federation.

According to Laanemets, permanent peace in Europe is possible after the full integration of Ukraine into the Euro-Atlantic structure after the war.

"We know from our own experience that this is not an easy path and requires patience. Estonia is ready to fully contribute to the implementation of the necessary reforms. Minister Klymenko and I also discussed specific ways to continue ongoing cooperation projects and what their future needs might be. Considering the circle of countries that participated in the meeting, we also used the opportunity to invite other partners to contribute to helping Ukraine through joint projects," the minister said.

During the visit, Laanemets also visited the Latvian-Belarusian border and met with the ESTPOL8 unit deployed there. As part of the meeting, delegations from all countries visited the Lithuanian-Belarusian border and laid wreaths at the Medininkai Memorial.

The Estonian minister was accompanied on the visit by Veiko Kommusaar, deputy director general of the Police and Border Guard Board in the border guard field, Janek Magi, head of the border guard and migration policy department of the Ministry of the Interior, and the minister's adviser Vootele Pai.