Home News Business Ex-Soviet Latvia, Belarus finish mapping border

Ex-Soviet Latvia, Belarus finish mapping border

Latvia – The former Soviet republics of Latvia and Belarus completed the 13-year process of mapping out their border, which is now part of the eastern rim of the European Union.

Officials from the two countries signed a final demarcation accord in the Latvian capital Riga, setting down their 141-kilometre (88-mile) frontier.

Both sides hailed the end of more than a decade of often sluggish efforts, which those involved indicated were held up by bureaucracy rather than any territorial disputes.

“The preparation of the final documents alone — including the demarcation map — took three years,” said General Alexander Arkhipov, the Belarussian joint chairman of the border commission.

“It was difficult and tough, but we did what we had to do,” said his Latvian counterpart Irina Mangule.

Latvia and Belarus signed a border treaty in 1995, four years after becoming independent states as the Soviet Union crumbled. Demarcation started in 1997.

Latvia and Belarus enjoy relatively friendly ties, despite having followed very different political paths since independence.

Latvia, a country of 2.3 million people which lies on the Baltic Sea, joined the European Union and NATO in 2004.

Belarus, a nation of just under 10 million people, is ruled by autocratic President Alexander Lukashenko, who is dubbed a dictator by a number of western countries.

Last year, Latvia signed a long-awaited border deal with Russia which had been held up by a territorial dispute. But the frontier has not yet been marked out.

“If there’s the political will and the public finances, the completion of the border (with Russia) can be accomplished in two years,” Gunars Dabolins, head of Latvia’s border guard service, told reporters.

“If not, it could take years,” he said.

Latvia also shares land and sea borders with its EU neighbours Estonia and Lithuania, which were likewise part of the Soviet Union.
It has yet to settle its sea border with Lithuania because of suggestions there may be oil in the disputed waters.