21 May 2007

On 16 May 2007, the ICBL participated in a ceremony marking the end of the stockpile destruction programs in both Serbia and Montenegro. Serbia’s deadline under the Mine Ban Treaty to destroy all stockpiles of antipersonnel mines is 1 March 2008, and Montegro’s is 1 April 2011. The Stockpile Destruction project was carried by the Serbian Ministry of Defense and the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA), and was supported by several countries through NATO, with the lead taken by Canada and Austria. Other donors included the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands, Ireland, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

The Serbian military reported that 1,404,819 mines were demilitarized over 27 months, including 40,000 mines that were located in Montenegro and transferred to Serbia for this purpose. For environmental reasons the mines were mostly demilitarized, with the components targeted for civilian use. Serbia is keeping 5,565 mines for training purposes under Article 3 of the Mine Ban Treaty.

The ceremony took place in Belgrade at the Topcider Military Club and was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Ministry of Defense, the armed forces, NATO, NAMSA, and several donor states. The MFA was represented by Ambassador Bratislav Djordjevic, Acting Director of the General Directorate for NATO and Defense Affairs.

The speakers, including Amb. Djordjevic, representatives from NATO and NAMSA, and the Canadian and Austrian Ambassadors to Serbia, all took note of the spirit of cooperation and partnership that led to successful early completion of Serbia and Montenegro’s stockpile destruction programs. The Austrian Ambassador remarked that “the national ownership of this project was the key to its success.”

The ICBL’s Treaty Implementation Director Tamar Gabelnick made a statement congratulating Serbia for finishing the destruction of a relatively large stockpile almost a year before its deadline and recognizing that the inclusion of Montenegro’s stockpile meant that it had finished destroying its stock within two months of the treaty coming into force. She reminded Serbia of the obligation to report on and destroy any stockpiles found in the future and the need to report on past and planned use of the mines retained under Article 3. She also took the opportunity to speak about cluster munitions, urging states to participate in the Lima Conference on 23-25 May and to endorse the Oslo Declaration, noting that Serbia had already done so.