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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Saturday, 21.09.2019, 18:53

Estonian govt supports cheaper option for eastern border

BC, Tallinn, 30.08.2019.Print version
The Estonian government has decided in favor of a cheaper solution for the construction of the Estonian-Russian border costing 130.5 mln euros, 57.5 mln euros less than the more expensive option

Interior Minister Mart Helme presented the alternative to the construction of the eastern border to the Cabinet on Thursday, and the Cabinet backed the solution according to which the number of components in the construction of the border infrastructure will be reduced and the project made less costly.

The government also decided on the basis of the solution put before it to earmark additionally 12 mln euros for the construction of the land border in addition to the 79.9 mln allocated earlier. In accordance with the new calculations, the construction will cost 130.5 mln euros, 57.5 mln euros less than the design looked at earlier.

Prime Minister Juri Ratas said that the decision of the government was unanimous and construction of the border will start already in the first half of next year.

Ratas added that in accordance with the plan presented by the Interior Ministry and the Police and Border Guard Board, a secure border will be constructed which enables to detect and identify all border violations and respond to them rapidly enough when necessary. 

"The new plan is based on adjusted calculations and clearer needs, which however does not mean yielding on the quality or the security of the border. We are putting emphasis on effectiveness and practicability," Ratas said.

Interior Minister Mart Helme said that the government decided in favor of an option that is more favorable financially than the project looked at previously, while being also effective. He said that in accordance with the option chosen, it will be possible to take into use modern technological solutions in the next stages of the construction of the border. Helme said that in the new option an animal fence and a sand strip have been discarded, while the patrol road will be constructed in some sections of the border with patrolling in light vehicles rather than in jeeps in mind. 

"Construction of the infrastructure is very important -- its is the prerequisite for the establishment of the monitoring system. For the monitoring systems we are planning to use European Union funds to the maximum extent," Helme said.

"We will install the monitoring equipment -- cameras, drones and drone identification systems -- on the border when the infrastructure has been completed. Construction of the border infrastructure, fences and roads will take several years. Delaying the acquisition of monitoring technology until the end of construction enables to acquire more state-of-the-art technology," the interior minister said. 

The construction tender for the first section of the border measuring 23.5 kilometers in length was announced by the Police and Border Guard Board in January this year. In the tender the changes arising from the decision made by the government on Thursday will be taken into account, and the outcome is to become clear by the end of this year.

Construction work of said section of the border to the north of the point where the national borders of Estonia, Latvia and Russia meet is expected to start in the first half of 2020. The infrastructure of the land border is to be built in four stages. 

Of the 79.9 mln euros allocated for designing and construction of the border, 24.4 mln euros has been spent to date. For that money three new surveillance points have been established on Narva River, markers of the border acquired for Lake Peipsi, the design of the land border prepared and test sections of the border built in 2016-2019.

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