Don’t swim beyond the buoys!

The last mark on the Belarusian-Lithuanian border has been installed
The four-meter buoy divided Lake Giluta, in the Braslav District, in the Vitebsk Region, in two parts — the Belarusian and Lithuanian. This was the last border mark on the state border. Local fishermen will have to get used to the new order: they will have to catch their own Belarusian fish in their own Belarusian land, or water. The numerous participants in the celebrations of the completion of the demarcation can prove that the installation of the buoy was quite a difficult task. It is easier to deal with the giant bobber in winter, when the lake is covered in 70-centimeter thick ice. The necessary equipment is taken to the right spot, and then a huge 460-kilogram anchor with a 12-meter fall goes underwater. After that the black and yellow pillar equipped with light and radio reflectors, which marks the state border, is fastened to the underwater construction.

The completion of the demarcation is a very remarkable event in the history of Belarusian-Lithuanian relations. The efforts of politicians, border guards, designers, geodesists and constructors resulted in 680 kilometers of the well-developed state border between the two countries. There was no border of the kind between Belarus and the former Soviet Union republics. The country inherited thousands of kilometers of border territories that required a civilized image. The demarcation seems not only a formal determination of exterior borders, but also the very definition of sovereignty. Besides representatives of border services, Foreign Ministries of the two countries and government bodies attending the ceremony in Lake Giluta were western diplomats, namely, Laimute Pilukaite, acting head and press officer of the Representation of the European Commission in Lithuania, and head of the TACIS office in Belarus Joachim Lemann.

One should bear in mind that the western border of Belarus is the border of the Union State with the European Union, in other words, European security issues are tackled here. The chief of the State Customs Committee of Belarus, Alexander Pavlovsky, noted that the demarcation of the border helped set up a barrier to illegal migrants, smugglers and other trespassers.

The completion of the border infrastructure is an important political move: This is a historic event,” Alexander Pavlovsky said talking to those present at the ceremony: Belarus and Lithuania agreed they have no territorial claims, we respect each other and acknowledge the right of independent development. I’d like to note that Belarus is the first CIS country that finished the development of border infrastructure that meets international requirements. This border unites us in our common European house.”

Besides the Lithuanian direction, demarcation will soon be completed on the Belarusian-Latvian border. As of today some $10.9 million have been invested in border infrastructure, of them 30% were provided free of charge as part of the TACIS program. Another $2 million will be provided in the framework of the program in 2006.

After the ratification of the agreement on the state border with Ukraine demarcation will continue on the southern border of Belarus. As for the western border, Belarus keeps replacing 50-year-old border markers on the Polish border.

by Anna Ivanova
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