According to BelTA the European Union and the border services of Belarus and Lithuania have launched a joint project to lay almost 400 kilometers of fiber optic communication lines along the Belarusian-Lithuanian border, Deputy Chairman of the Belarusian State Border Committee Igor Pechen said on 6 September.
The ceremony to launch the project Development of Telecommunications Infrastructure at the Belarus-Lithuania Border (BOMBEL 4) was held in Minsk on 6 September. The project is financed by an international technical assistance program of the European Union and will be implemented by the State Border Committee of Belarus in cooperation with the State Border Guard Service under the Lithuanian Ministry of the Interior. The project will cost over ˆ3.7 million, about 90% of which has been granted by the EU, over ˆ438,000 has been assigned by the State Border Committee from the Belarusian state budget. BOMBEL 4 continues the BOMBEL 3 project which was implemented in 2009-2011 and allowed to create a modern communication and data transfer system at the Belarusian-Polish border. “This unique project is extremely important for us. It is the largest project to construct telecommunications facilities implemented by the European Union in Belarus. According to the plan, the total length of fiber optic communication cables will reach almost 400 kilometers, and about 50 various facilities will be constructed in line with the project,” Igor Pechen said. He noted that the Belarusian border service and the EU have established a fruitful, long-term, and comprehensive cooperation. They have started implementing joint projects on demarcation of the Belarusian-Ukrainian border, readmission, improving efficiency of protection of the Belarusian-Polish border, and training Belarusian border guards. Attache of the European Union Delegation to Belarus Outa Hermalahti also stressed the importance of improving communications on the border. “We are neighbors – Belarus and the European Union. We need borders that will unite us, not divide,” she said. Outa Hermalahti added that BOMBEL 4 is not the only project on border protection financed by the European Union. For example, for over a year the EU has been implementing a project on irregular migration in cooperation with the Belarusian Ministry of Internal Affairs and the State Border Committee. The parties plan to introduce amendments to the legislation regarding accommodation of migrants and to build two new facilities for migrants. “We will draft a new project. This is a twinning project [Twinning is a European Union instrument to support cooperation between government agencies of the EU member states and partner countries]. We will try to involve specialists on border protection from the EU member states who will help Belarus improve some aspects of work in this area,” Outa Hermalahti noted. Belarus expects to start receiving offers from the EU member states interested in the project in October. According to Virgaudas Lukosevicius, head of the department for economy, strategic planning, and accounting of the Lithuanian State Border Guard Service, the implementation of BOMBEL 4 will help improve information exchange between the Belarusian and Lithuanian border services. He noted that cooperation between the two border services has reached a high level and said that heads of the agencies will meet in September 2019. The BOMBEL 4 project provides for setting up an information and communication system which will connect border outposts, posts, and checkpoints. The project includes three main activities: laying fiber optic communication lines, supplying radio communications equipment, and forming local area networks. Fiber optic communication lines help open up high speed channels which can transmit information at the rate of 1Gb/s. This will help increase information exchange by several times and will positively influence the process of border crossing. The implementation of the project will help modernize the telecommunications infrastructure of the Belarusian border service along the Belarusian-Lithuanian border. The project will help create conditions to design a system of integrated management of the state border using the latest technical resources and make the process of crossing the Belarusian-Lithuanian border more comfortable. The State Border Committee also intends to start constructing a telecommunications network at the Belarusian-Latvian border. Several steps have already been completed. The Belarusian border service hopes for the launch of the BOMBEL 5 project in the future.
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