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TALLINN – Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas and Interior Minister Katri Raik on Friday visited the three-way meeting point where the national borders of Estonia, Latvia and Russia meet and where the construction of the Estonian-Russian border will start from.
The Prime Minister said that the eastern border of Estonia is also the external border of the European Union and NATO and that in its construction quality and the best possible use of money are paramount, spokespeople for the government said.
"The country's best experts, who are working closely between themselves, have been brought in to prepare the procurements for the border construction. Our authorities have sufficient experience with the implementation of large-scale construction projects and I am glad that these experiences are also put to use," Juri Ratas said.
He said that when we are talking about combating illegal border-crossing and smuggling, criminals use ever more state-of-the-art solutions in their activity and the assets and the infrastructure at the disposal of the state must be one step ahead of those of the criminal world.
The interior minister said that the first procurement for a contract to build the border will be announced already at the end of January.
"Construction of the border is expensive, but extremely important when it comes to security," Katri Raik said.
The border is estimated to cost approximately 190 million euros to build at current prices. The precise cost will be determined in the tenders.
"Current estimates, made before the procurement, confirm that the price will be in the range we know at present," Katri Raik said.
"Nobody doubts that Estonia needs a safe external border. The question however is what is the optimal price of this safety. Test sections meant for testing different solutions showed that building the border on the difficult terrain will be a challenge and an expensive project at the same time. Construction will take place in a more than 300 kilometer section of the border that will require also electricity supply and technical equipment aside from infrastructure," Director General of the Police and Border Guard Board Elmar Vaher said.
"Construction of the border is not a project in creating seeming security, where we put up a fence and are enthralled by what could be achieved with little money. Construction of the border is one of the biggest safety, security and construction projects for Estonia to date, in order for it to be safe for people to live in Estonia," Elmar Vaher said.
In the course of the visit, the ministers were offered an overview of the state of play regarding the construction of the border and showed the three-way meeting point of national borders. The ministers also visited the Luhamaa station of the border guard where they looked at the work conditions and equipment of guards and talked with staff members.
Construction of the land border will start from the three-way meeting point and will be carried out in two or three parts. By now the temporary control line, which is what the national border is called in the absence of a border treaty between Estonia and Russia, has been marked and cleared of forest. The Police and Border Guard Board is preparing a procurement for the construction of the border in the section extending from the three-way meeting point to the checkpoint of Luhamaa. The experience to be gained with the first section will be used by officials, experts and builders in the organization the next tenders and construction of the border.