Three-month state of emergency declared at Latvia-Belarus border

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Until November 10, Latvia has declared a state of emergency on the country's border with Belarus. The decision was taken by the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, August 10. The state of emergency designation sounds dramatic but is essentially technical, allowing faster decision-making and spending to address the situation than would normally be the case.

The state of emergency has been declared in four border administrative territories: Ludza region, Krāslava region, Augšdaugava region and Daugavpils city.

The border guard will have the right to use physical force if necessary and special means to immediately return a person to the country from which he or she crossed the state border illegally, and will not accept applications from persons regarding the granting of refugee or alternative status.

The draft order stipulates the obligation of the National Armed Forces (NBS) and the State Police (VP) to provide assistance to the State Border Guard in ensuring border surveillance in order to prevent illegal crossing of the Latvian-Belarusian border. 

NBS must also provide space and infrastructure to accommodate the persons who have crossed the border illegally and persons coming from Belarus who have applied for refugee or alternative status.

Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš (New Unity) emphasized that this decision practically closes the border between Latvia and Belarus, which is a very important turning point. 

Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns said: "It is important to remember that we adopt this decision under the circumstances of a practically declared hybrid war, since the leader of the Belarusian regime has publicly stated that he is ready to participate in flooding Europe with refugees. So it is important that our border guards have rights and they are clear."

The decision to declare a state of emergency can be revoked by the Cabinet of Ministers before the specified time if the threat to the state has been prevented or resolved. The Cabinet of Ministers also has the right, if necessary, to extend the declared state of emergency for a period not exceeding three months.



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