Paper on specific case study of Latvia (EU)/Russia border

Borders, Borderlands, and Security

Term Paper, 2007

13 Pages, Grade: A-



Paper addresses the transformation of the agenda of border security relating to Latvia-Russia border.[i] There are discussed following problems in paper:

- the relevance of signed treaty between Latvia and Russia;
- the investment in Latvia/Russia border;
- the effectiveness of cross-border cooperation;
- problems with which Latvia-Russia border is dealing (increased number of cargos waiting for crossing Latvia/Russia border, smuggling, persons crossing border with fictitious documents, illegal border crossers and illegal immigrants).

This paper focuses on what comes in through the border, and not so much on what goes out except problem of long truck lines. This paper also focuses on the investment and problems which affected Latvia’s side not Russia’s.

Definition of Borders and Security

Boundary - a demarcation indicating some division in spatial terms. Border – an international boundary line; when a border is seen as a zone it is often called a borderland or the borderlands. Frontier - a zone of contact with or without a specified boundary line.[ii]

As L.Heininen and H.N.Nicol have emphasized ‘security’ is a broad concept, there are many ideas about the meaning of security and what should, or should not, be a ‘security’ issue, therefore there are many different understandings and ways to define and conceptualize security.[iii]

Security in this paper is understood as direct intervention to prevent threats and interdict dangerous people and goods at the Latvia/Russia border.

Function of the Conceptual Framework

Author, as E.Brunet-Jailly in Borderlands: Comparing Border Security in North America and the European Union,[iv] in this paper tried, first, to discuss the relevance of agents on borders, second, to examine the porosity of border, and third, to suggest new policy guidelines to government and agents that might strengthen border security objectives.


In 1918-1940 (Latvia as independent state) and in 1940-1990 (as part of USSR) borders were never an issue. For Latvia creating the Eastern border from 1991 was a great challenge starting from “zero” because there were no border between Latvia and Russia for 50 years.

In 1991 after independence of Latvia there were started border negotiations by Latvia and Russia. Latvia claimed on a district in the neighbouring Russian region of Pskov[v] (Pytalovo district of Pskov Oblast of the Russian Federation) former Jaunlatgale/Abrene which was part of Latvia before World War II. Latvia/Russia border and Pskov district function as a transport corridor from Russia to the Baltic countries and can be described as the link between the Russian and European markets. Highways and railway systems link the region with the capitals of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and with the ports of St Petersburg, Murmansk, Kaliningrad, Tallinn and Riga. A first attempt to reach a compromise in mid-1996 failed owing to opposition in both countries.[vi]

In 2004 Latvia joined European Union (EU) and the border with Russia has transformed into external border of EU. As L.Heininen and H.Nicol have argued: before the EU enlargement of 2004 the only border between member states of the EU and the Russian Federation was the Finnish-Russian border, which was more a boundary than a borderland.[vii] There were no signed treaty between Latvia and Russia, therefore external border of EU/Latvia with Russia didn’t exist from 2004 till 2007. EU had repeatedly urged the signing of a border treaty,[viii] therefore Moscow and Riga had been expected to sign the treaty on May 10, 2005 (EU/Russia summit). But Latvia supplemented the treaty with a one-sided “explanatory” declaration and Russia refused to sign it. The declaration made a reference to the Peace Treaty between Latvia and Russia of August 11, 1920 which was considered as territorial claims by the Russian side. According to the Peace Treaty, the Jaunlatgale/Abrene district belonged to Latvia, and became part of Russia in 1944. Latvian government claimed that the Constitution of Latvia does not allow it to sign the prepared border treaty in any other way than by adopting the unilateral declaration (according to Article 1 of the Latvian Constitution the Abrene/Pytalovo district is part of Latvia). Latvian Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis stated that the declaration approved by the government did not present any territorial claims against Russia and that Latvia would respect the borders defined by the prepared and initialled treaty.

On March 6, 2007 the Latvian government pronounced the declaration void and entrusted Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis with signing the border treaty citing in its statement its respect for The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) commitment not to change borders after World War II.[ix] The loss of Abrene is a symbolic rather than a practical or physical issue.[x] Former Abrene lives its own life, and, if you arrive into the Russia’s Pytalovo district without a map marking the pre-war borders, you will not be able to determine where Russia has always been and where Latvia was.[xi]

On March 27, 2007 treaty between Latvia and Russia was signed making the boundary between the countries official for the first time since 1991. This treaty gives new legal clarity to a stretch of the external frontier of the EU. NATO's Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer called the signing an ‘important step’ and said he looked forward to the treaty's early ratification, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso called the treaty “a decisive step toward the development of stable relations between both countries”.[xii] Although details are not yet clear, the treaty will confirm boundary demarcation and set out other plans for boundary maintenance and management. The choices made by political leaders in Brussels and Moscow – and in Tallin and Riga – have already changed the regional border and transformed it from an irrelevant line on a political map into a rather visible dividing line, a line separating Russia from the enlarged Europe. This transformation of the border – combined with and caused by the total transformation of the political, social and economic system – has definitely changed the daily life of people living in the area. It still remains to be seen what will be the long-term effects of this change. [xiii]


There will be used hypothesis drawn by T.Payan and A.Vasquez[xiv] in this paper to explore the effectiveness of the investment: if quantifiable national-security policies produce decreased drug flows, fewer undocumented border crossers, less smuggling one may conclude that Latvia investment in new-border security strategies was successful.

Expenditures on Border Security

There were invested 90 million Ls (approximately 128 million Euros) for strengthening the Latvia-Russia border before joining EU on May 1, 2004 - 10% of this amount were supported by EU.[xv] From 2004 till 2006 there were added personal (the personal is for 95,3% completed[xvi] ) introduced higher technologies (as well as modernized telecommunication network) and adding equipment (211 vehicles in 2005[xvii] ) using Schengen Facility Programme.[xviii] However, technically Latvia-Russia border is now only for 60% prepared.[xix] Russian border is just 276 km long comparing with Latvia/Estonia border (343 km), Latvia/Lithuania border (588 km) and Latvia/Byelorussia border (161 km), but personal is twice bigger because this border is the most important for security issues for Latvia.[xx]


[i] Latvia-Russia border: Pededze – Brunishevo (pedestrian) - from 8.00 till 20.00; Grebnevo – Ubylinka (car) - round-the-clock; Karsava - Pytalovo (railway) - round-the-clock; Vientuli – Ludonka (car) - round-the-clock

Zilupe – Sebezh (railway) – round-the-clock; Terekhovo – Burachki (car) – round-the-clock

Cross-border cooperation between Russia and Europe

[ii] Science Encyclopedia: The History of Ideas Vol 1 Borderlands Borders and Global Frontiers - Defining Borders, Borderlands, And Frontiers

[iii] Lassi Heininen and Heather Nicol “A New Northern Security Agenda,” in Emmanuel Brunet Jailly, Borderlands: Comparing Border Security in North America and the European Union, University of Ottawa Press: Ottawa, Canada, 2007, p.120.

[iv] Emmanuel Brunet- Jailly “Conclusion: Borders, Borderlands, and Security - European and North American Lessons and Public Policy Suggestions” in Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly, Borderlands: Comparing Border Security in North America and the European Union, University of Ottawa Press: Ottawa, Canada, 2007, p. 351.

[v] Pskov oblast (region) borders on the South Estonia and Vidzeme region and has a population of about 770 000 people. The region has been historically developed as an agrarian one, but the regional industry has been gradu­ally restored, especially transport and forest industry. The region also has great development potential in the tourist sector, especially ecological tourism. Among the north-western regions of Russia, Pskov is the leader on the density of roads with thick surface in general use.

The Baltic Tangent Development/ Area A brief presentation of transport infrastructure and regional economy Project part-financed by the European Union within the BSR INTERREG IIIB NP

[vi] Russia already signed (24 October 1997) and ratified (21 May 2003) the border treaties with Lithuania. The similar treaties were signed between Russia and Estonia on 18 May 2005 and ratified by the Riigikogu (Estonian parliament) on 22 June. Moscow claimed that the ratification act adopted by the Riigikogu contained ‘unacceptable provisions’, such as reference to the Tartu Peace Treaty of 2 February 1920, Resolution of the Supreme Council on national independence of Estonia of 20 August 1991, Declaration of the Riigikogu on restoration of constitutional power of 7 October 1992. On 13 August Russia withdrew its signature from the border treaties.

Information note Border treaty between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Latvia

[vii] Lassi Heininen and Heather Nicol “A New Northern Security Agenda,” in Emmanuel Brunet Jailly, Borderlands: Comparing Border Security in North America and the European Union, University of Ottawa Press: Ottawa, Canada, 2007, p.141.


[ix] Latvian prime minister goes to Moscow to sign border treaty with Russia


[xi] Trip to Abrene


[xiii] Jakub M. Godzimirski NUPI Contribution to STETE Seminar Models for Cross-border Co-operation - focus on the Pskov Region 19-20 May 2006

[xiv] Tony Payan and Amanda Vasquez “The Costs of Homeland Security”, in Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly, Borderlands: Comparing Border Security in North America and the European Union, University of Ottawa Press: Ottawa, Canada, 2007, p. 233.

[xv] Valsts robežsardzes priekšnieks sniedz interviju laikrakstam „B&B”

[xvi] Valsts robežsardzes 2005. gada darbības pārskats p.30.

[xvii] Valsts robežsardzes 2005. gada darbības pārskats

[xviii] Schengen Facility

[xix] Valsts robežsardzes priekšnieks sniedz interviju laikrakstam „B&B”

[xx] Valsts robežsardzes priekšnieks sniedz interviju laikrakstam „B&B”

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Paper on specific case study of Latvia (EU)/Russia border
Borders, Borderlands, and Security
Sciences Po Paris, Dijon, Nancy, Poitier, Menton, Havre  (L’Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Lille)
Borders, Borderlands, and Security
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EU, Latvia, Russia, Border, Security
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Karina Oborune (Author), 2007, Paper on specific case study of Latvia (EU)/Russia border, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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