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Working towards a landmine-free Cyprus.

Author:

Patrick Dewhurst

THE HEAD of implementation of the Ottawa convention on landmines, Kerry Brinkert yesterday praised Cyprus' commitment to destroying its stock of anti-personnel mines.

At a ceremony at Kalo Chorio firing range yesterday where 494 anti-personnel land mines were destroyed Brinkert said "Cyprus has converted its commitments into meaningful action on the ground".

He noted that Cyprus had decided to reduce its stockpile of land mines "despite being in a situation where the matter of national security is profound" indicating Cyprus' decision that "the marginal utility of anti-personnel mines is greatly outweighed by the human suffering that results from the use of these weapons."

Brinkert said that Cyprus had "demonstrated leadership by ratifying the Convention and by making commitments to implement it" and that real leadership rests in living up to one's commitments.

Defence Minister Costas Papacostas said: "(this ceremony) brings us to the end of a momentous initiative undertaken by the Republic of Cyprus concerning the destruction of 494 anti-personnel mines of the National Guard, in accordance with Article 3 of the Ottawa Convention."

Papacostas said that after signing the Ottawa Convention on December 3, 1997 the foreign affairs ministry formulated a national plan for landmine destruction, containing detailed provisions for the timely adherence to the conventions obligations.

Since July 2007, some 48,475 stockpiled anti-personnel landmines have been destroyed while a further 2,183 landmines in five mine fields under the control of the Republic are due to be destroyed before July 1st 2013.

The government's ongoing efforts to clear minefields are being met by similar initiatives to clear Greek Cypriot and Turkish laid minefields in the buffer zone by the United Nations.

A spokesman for the UN's Mine Action Service said that yesterday's service was a low key event, but a positive sign for the demining process. "To be honest everyone wants a mine-free Cyprus" he said, adding that next week the service expects to his a target of 25,000 mines cleared.

In addition to highlighting Cyprus successful removal of anti-personnel mines, Papacostas said "Today's ceremony highlights the broader long-term commitment of Cyprus to successfully combat the spread of small arms and light weapons in all its forms"

He reported that to date Cyprus has also destroyed about 4,500 light weapons of Czech origin, which had been stored in Cyprus since 1974, and 324 Strela 2 anti aircraft missiles.

Copyright Cyprus Mail 2009

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Geographic Code:4EXCY
Date:Oct 9, 2010
Words:408
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