EU and Ukraine Launching Project on the Destruction of Landmines

KIEV, Ukraine -- Following the ratification by the Ukrainian Parliament of the Mine Ban Treaty in May 2005, the European Commission and the Government of Ukraine have just successfully concluded the negotiation of the terms of reference of a €6 million project on the destruction of PFM-1 landmines stockpile in Ukraine. This will allow the project to be launched by the end of this year. Article 4 of the Treaty commits every State Party to destroy all stockpiled landmines within a 4-year period after the Treaty enters into force.

PFM-1 Landmine

Stockpile destruction is a major component of the European Community’s mine strategy and action to improve human security. It is in fact crucial to ensure that landmines stockpiled after clearance or stored in deposits are not replanted or transferred to be used elsewhere. It is also the responsibility of affected countries and the international community to protect populations from the threat of such stockpiles.

Within this objective, the Commission already took in 2004 the financial decision to support the destruction of the PFM-1 antipersonnel landmines stockpile in Ukraine. The PFM-1 is the only known antipersonnel landmine containing toxic liquid explosive. The Commission consistently put pressure on Ukraine to ratify the Mine Ban Treaty before any release of the funds could take place. In this context, the decision made by the Ukrainian Parliament is a milestone of the co-operation between Ukraine and the Commission and for the Commission’s policy in promoting universal adherence to the Treaty.

As a result of the break-up of the USSR, Ukraine inherited more than 10 million stockpiled anti-personnel landmines, of which the PFM-1 represents the large majority. The shelf-life of the PFM-1 landmines have since long expired, which poses particular risks to the safety of the population and environment in Ukraine, as well as risks to neighbouring countries, including EU Member States.

Therefore, the destruction of the PFM-1 is an urgent matter, which requires not only specific technical solutions, but also financial commitments of the magnitude which Ukraine can not face alone. Furthermore, the EC support is of the utmost importance because of the close geographic proximity of Ukraine to the EU Member States and her European integration aspirations.

Source: European Commission