Modern border management system a key prerequisite for economic growth and poverty reduction

27 Sep 2013

imageThe groundbreaking ceremony

Bagratashen, 27 September 2013 – “Efficient and effective border management contributes not only to secure borders, but also to the smooth movement of people and goods across borders, and to increased regional and international trade and transit - key prerequisites for economic growth and poverty reduction,” registered the participants of a groundbreaking ceremony that took place at the Bagratashen border crossing point (BCP) within the framework of UNDP implemented “Modernization of Bavra, Bagratashen and Gogavan Border Crossing Points” (MBBG) project.

H.E. Serzh Sargsyan, President of the Republic of Armenia, Gagik Khachatryan, Chairman of the RA State Revenue Committee, Ambassador Traian Hristea, Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Bradley Busetto, UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative in Armenia, representatives of government agencies responsible for border management, as well as international organizations, diplomatic corps and media attended the event. 

The Government of Armenia has demonstrated its firm commitment to advance the Integrated Border Management (IBM) system in the country, which was attested by the signature on 3 November 2010 of the Presidential Decree on Adoption of the Strategy on Border Security and Integrated State Border Management. This was followed in April 2011 by adoption of the 2011-2015 National Action Plan and timetable for the implementation of border security and IBM Strategy envisaging more than 80 activities covering the areas, such as legislation, inter-agency and cross-border cooperation, training and provision of equipment for BCPs on the Armenian-Georgian border. However, the government considered the top priority of the Action Plan modernization of Bavra, Bagratashen, and Gogavan BCPs on the border between Armenia and Georgia.

“The EU continues to provide significant support to Armenia for upgrading and modernizing border infrastructure and management to ensure compatibility with European standards. I am delighted to mark the beginning of this ambitious project,” said Ambassador Train Hristea, Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia.

“Development challenges are complex and collaborative and partnership approaches to address those are required. By working together with our partners – the Government of Armenia and the European Union - we can make a difference,” said Bradley Busetto, UN RC/UNDP RR in Armenia.  He reiterated that improving border management for better governance and socio-economic development in Armenia is a high priority for UNDP, who is committed to continue its support to the Government of Armenia in its efforts to implement this ambitious reform program.

The Government of Armenia has received 30.316,000 Euros in loans for the MBBG project from the European Investment Bank (EIB) for infrastructure and equipment at the BCPs, and 10, 293,000 Euros from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) for a new bridge connecting Armenia and Georgia over the river at Bagratashen.  These loans are complemented by a grant of 12 million Euros from the European Commission’s Neighborhood Investment Facility (NIF) and more than 3 million Euros from the EU funded Eastern Partnership IBM Flagship Initiative. Infrastructure conceptual designs were made by Latvian company ARHIS based on the model solutions used on the BCP between Latvia and Belarus. The main contractor for construction works is SADE Consortium. Construction supervision is provided by SAFEGE Consulting Engineers, Belgium.

“We are delighted to be part of this key joint effort. The EBRD is firmly committed to supporting the development of reliable and modern infrastructure in Armenia aimed at regional integration and to support trade flows. The improved border crossing point in Bagratashen, the main land transport corridor connecting Armenia, through Georgia, with the most active trade partners, now has more efficient and increased processing capacity, providing a multi-directional road crossing for international cargo and passenger traffic.  We look forward to continuing our successful cooperation with the country’s authorities and other international organizations in supporting the further development of Armenia,” said Bruno Balvanera, EBRD Director for Caucasus, Moldova and Belarus.

All border management agencies are actively involved in the process. Their staff – border guards and customs officers, officials from State Service for Food Safety and Ministry of Healthcare, as well as police - have been trained in the past years enabling them to meaningfully implement the concept of IBM and thus ensure swift and smooth inter-agency cooperation and information exchange, which are critical elements towards reaching the strategic objective of open, but secure borders. New Standard Operating Procedures for border management agencies are being prepared for use at all BCPs. These will fully reflect the introduction of new national systems such as “Single Window,” as well as cross-border harmonization of procedures with Georgia.

The new BCPs will bring considerable benefits to local people. Temporary jobs will be provided during the construction process, permanent ones created later to maintain the BCPs and provide logistical and commercial services. The provision of engineering services will also include gasification of a number of neighboring communities, ensuring reliable supply both for homes and for small and medium-size enterprises. The communities will also benefit from the Internet access and, as pledged by the “UCOM” company, some of the schools, hospitals and public park areas will enjoy the free Internet.

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UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in 177 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations. UNDP in Armenia has been established in March 1993 and supports the government to reach national development priorities and the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

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