News

Government decides to open Estonian-Latvian border checkpoints to help Ukrainian refugees

By a regulation of the Government of the Republic, a temporary control will come into force on the Estonian-Latvian border this afternoon, the purpose of which is to streamline the entry of people fleeing the war in Ukraine and their initial contact with the country.

The Minister of the Interior, Kristian Jaani said that with the re-establishment of temporary checkpoints, assistance for Ukrainians fleeing the war could already start at the border. “Checks at the border can be a bit time-consuming and we apologize for that in advance but our goal is, by no means, to disrespect Ukrainian citizens. On the contrary, it gives us a better overview of the arrivals and we can provide war refugees with the information they need already at the border and direct them to basic services. For the last week, we have done a lot to make Ukrainians arriving in Estonia feel welcome and safe here,” said Jaani.

The Minister of the Interior added that the regulation of the Government applies equally to Ukrainian citizens and their family members. “It is important to emphasize here that according to the law, we consider spouses and relatives in ascending and descending lines – parents and children – as family members regardless of their citizenship,” he said.

According to Jaani, war refugees will also be advised at the border checkpoint to contact the Tallinn reception centre for more detailed information. “It is possible to get various services, assistance and information there that a person who has arrived in Estonia as a refugee needs,” the Minister specified.

The Director General of the Police and Border Guard Board Elmar Vaher noted that in the last four days police officers have been in contact with more than thousand Ukrainians near the internal border in south Estonia. Among them were Ukrainians passing through the country, local residents as well as Ukrainians coming to Estonia as war refugees.

“The temporary re-establishment of border controls will help us to ensure better security. We can also maintain contact with Ukrainians arriving here, so that we can advise them later as well and give instructions and recommendations. Our task is to do everything in our power to help people fleeing the horrors of war,” said Vaher.

The temporary checkpoints will be re-established between Estonia and Latvia at four locations, three in Valga and one in Ikla, for an initial period of ten days. Citizens of Estonia and the European Union must also be prepared to show their identity documents at the checkpoints. During the temporary re-establishment of border controls between Estonia and Latvia, crossing the state border in the area between the border crossing points is allowed in the usual way.

The regulation of the Government is available here (file in Estonian). It will also be published in the Riigi Teataja as soon as possible