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PM Siliņa visits Latvia's eastern border

On Thursday, October 19, the Prime Minister Evika Siliņa visited the Latvian eastern external border at Opuļi and Robežnieki. Infrastructure-building jobs are moving forward at different paces, the PM concluded after her visit, Latvian Television reported.

The Prime Minister began her visit with a survey of the Latvian-Russian border at the stage where the infrastructure is complete. But 180 kilometers along the Russian border, there is none. The work began at a time when the present Prime Minister Siliņa was Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of the Interior.

"The possibilities of that time in the budget should also be understood. With bureaucratic hurdles, criminal investigations that have been in between," Siliņa said.

The government's commitment remains to complete the fence along Belarus this year on land. The border line runs through the waters -- rivers and lakes -- in many places. For example, a pontoon footbridge across a lake is not yet complete.

“We plan to first finish building a fence on the border with Belarus and finish the fence on the border with Russia by the end of next year. We have also resolved the legal barriers to executing these commitments. But it doesn't end - the border also needs video systems and other types of elements to boost our border security capacity and efficiency,” the Prime Minister said.

Finance Minister Arvils Ašeradens (New Unity), while visiting the eastern border of Latvia with the Prime Minister, acknowledged that the project implementer “State real estate (VNĪ)” has been mobilized for faster construction of the fence, and currently works are even going better than planned. The deadlines set will be met: by the end of next year, the fence on the entire eastern border will be built, and financial resources are also earmarked for it.

“We are developing a slightly bigger problem right now with the fact that we have well funded the army affairs, and staff from the border guard see that it is a bit better there, so it is not so easy to fill the border guard personnel at the moment,” Ašeradens said, while noting that an additional EUR 30 million is planned for the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Justice this year.

“Ukraine teaches us that internal services are as important as the army. Let us see what we can give in the coming years,“ the minister said.

The Head of the State Border Guard Guntis Pujāts, who is meeting with heads of the Lithuanian and Polish Border Guard authorities in Daugavpils this week, emphasized that the fence on Latvia is certainly no worse than on the Lithuanian border.

“By length, by percentage, the Latvian border is built at a larger stage than the Polish border. The fence is not the only element that is necessary,” said Pujāts, adding that CCTV cameras and sensors must also be set up. 

Land reclaiming and deforestation are not complete either.

“All these rounds continue in parallel. When designing and developing works, there is a need for the reclaiming of ever-new territories. But everything is going according to plans and those needs that are determined by the builder,” said Dmitrijs Trofimovs, State Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior.

But whatever activity is along the border, migrants are still there.

“Their attitude is blatantly nihilistic. There are attempts at violence against border guards. It is not excluded that such acts can also take place against civilians,“ Pujāts said.

“For the government, internal and external security is a priority. Even now, with us very close, people who wanted to enter our country illegally came close to the border,“ the prime minister's office said in a statement later.

The visit concluded without incident.

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