NATO Mine-Destruction Facility Opens in Serbia
NATO has opened a dedicated site in Serbia for the destruction of land mines, the alliance announced Aug. 24.
Financed from NATO's Partnership for Peace (PfP) Trust Fund, the facility opened Aug. 17 in the town of Kragujevac in the Balkan republic of Serbia-Montenegro. The site, which will oversee the destruction of 1.3 million land mines, is the second project to be carried out in Serbia-Montenegro under auspices of the PfP fund.
The project is part of NATO's effort to help the country meet its obligations under the international Mine Ban Treaty. Canada and Austria are the lead allied nations for the project, with funding also coming from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. NATO's Maintenance and Supply Agency is overseeing the effort as project manager.
The 1.3 million anti-personnel land mines are stockpiled in 57 locations across Serbia-Montenegro, according to NATO. The new project should also increase the capacity of the Kragujevac plant to handle other demilitarization projects in the coming years, it said.
Among other goals, the PfP fund supports projects to help alliance partner countries safely destroy stockpiled land mines, munitions and weapons. So far more than 2 million land mines, thousands of tons of munitions and thousands of small arms have been eliminated under the program.
Meanwhile, the alliance said that 22 NATO and partner countries launched joint air operations Aug. 24 in Bulgaria under a joint exercise, Cooperative Key 2005. The exercise, which ends Sept. 5, includes live flying and will test the capability of participants' air forces to work together in crisis-response and peace-support missions.
NATO said the main operating air bases will be Krumovo and Graf Ignatievo in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
Von: 25 August 2005, http://www.defensenews.com, by BROOKS TIGNER, BRUSSELS