Latvia-Belarus border is under control: Interior Minister

The situation on the Latvian-Belarusian border is under control, said Minister for the Interior Marija Golubeva who visited the Silene border post on Wednesday, August 11. 

Of the 173-kilometer long border of Belarus, only a small part is equipped with border infrastructure. Most is swamps and forests. The border guards had a busy night Tuesday by preventing attempts of 56 people to enter Latvia. They hope the visit of the interior minister will push forward the fence construction project that has been stuck for years.

“The fence would help us very much. First of all, it prevents violators. It would be possible to equip it with technical means,” said Aleksandrs Sokolovs deputy chief of the border guarding department of the State Border Guard.

Minister of the Interior Marija Golubeva (Development/For!), plus Saeima Speaker Ināra Mūrniece (National Alliance), as well as members of Parliament's Defence, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Committee, visited the Daugavpils detention centre on Wednesday. The powers provided by the emergency status allow migrants detained by the border guard to be returned to Belarus on an accelerated basis, so the crisis with accommodation has at least been avoided for the time being.

Tents have been set up at the Silene Border Guard Point, but they are used only to accommodate detainees for a few hours while documents are being drawn up for the transfer of persons to the Daugavpils detention centre. But those tents are empty at the moment, too.

"At the moment, the situation is under control. We are individually examining [migrants] on a case-by-case basis so as not to violate European Union regulations. Asylum in Latvia cannot be applied for from the border area. It is an extraordinary instrument adopted by the government after careful consideration only because we are being targeted with hostile action on the part of Belarus," Golubeva said.

The government's Tuesday emergency decision has already entered into force, but it has yet to be confirmed by the Saeima. The Speaker of the Parliament said that an emergency meeting of the Saeima will be convened on Thursday for this purpose. Mūrniece is convinced that the decision will be taken without delay.

To strengthen the eastern border, the government granted additional funding on Tuesday. As part of this, the purchase and installation of a barbed-wire fence is also planned for this year, with an amount of EUR 1.7 million available for that purpose.

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