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Cyprus party to five-year action plan against mines
2004-12-14 09:49:20

Nicosia, Dec 14 (CNA) -- Cyprus, along with another 143 members States of the Ottawa Convention, has adopted a power action plan, spanning five years, to guide efforts towards the prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines.

High-ranking officials of member states of the Ottawa Convention, who attended the Nairobi summit on a mine-free world, signed a Declaration renewing their unwavering commitment to achieving the goal of a world free of antipersonnel mines, in which there will be zero new victims.

Cyprus was represented at the summit by Chairperson of the National Committee of the Republic for the implementation of the Ottawa Convention Ambassador Erato Kozakou-Markoullis, who signed the Declaration on behalf of the Cyprus Republic.

In her statement to the meeting, Markoullis referred to the recent commencement of the destruction of stockpiled anti-personnel mines by the Republic as a first step to fulfill its obligation under the Ottawa Convention.

"Even before ratifying the Convention in January 2003, Cyprus had already demined ten mixed minefields, and had destroyed more than 11,000 mines of various types, while in December 2003 alone 4,000 stockpiled anti-personnel mines were destroyed", she said.

Ambassador Markoullis said that in parallel to this Cyprus had put forward a proposal to the UN peace-keeping force in Cyprus to celar all minefields within the buffer zone, including eight minefiledgs laid by the National Guard and twenty seven by the Turkish forces.

''Despite the unwillingness of the other side to cooperate, Cyprus decided to proceed unilaterally with the demining process by agreeing to clear the minefields of the National Guard in the buffer zone,'' she said, adding that the project started in mid November this year and is expected to be completed in a year's time.

The EU-funded project, at an estimated cost of 2.5 million euros, takes place in full cooperation with the UN peace-keeping force in Cyprus and with the help of the Canadian government and the International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance.

Concluding her remarks, she quoted UNFICYP's Chief of Mission words at the launch of the demining programme that ''every mine removed leaves space for stepping-stones to mark the path of peace and reconcilation.''

''We are determined to bring it to a successful conclusion: a mine-free Cyprus and a mine -free world,'' Markoullis said.

In their declaration member states to the Ottawa Convention pledged to strengthen their efforts to clear mined areas and destroy stockpoled anti-personnel mines in accordance with the time-bound obligations agreed.

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