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Country Reports
BULGARIA, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Mine Ban Policy

Bulgaria signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997 and ratified it on 4 September 1998. At the treaty signing ceremony, Bulgaria’s Ambassador to Canada noted that Bulgaria’s major concerns with the Ottawa Process “were accommodated during the final negotiations in Oslo.”[1] He also stated that Bulgaria would need financial assistance in order to carry out its obligations under the treaty.[2] A former producer and exporter of landmines, Bulgaria has established a national coordinating body to oversee implementation of the treaty, including destruction of existing stocks and demining efforts within the country.[3]

An official from Bulgaria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs attended the Regional Conference on Landmines in Budapest, Hungary on 26-28 March 1998, as did Bulgarian nongovernmental representatives. The Foreign Ministry official urged all countries in the region to sign and ratify the Mine Ban Treaty, which he called “a new beginning of the process to end the suffering of millions.”[4]

Bulgaria attended the treaty preparatory meetings and the Oslo negotiations, but only as an observer. It did not endorse the final declaration of the Brussels Conference in June 1997. However, Bulgaria voted in favor of United Nations General Assembly resolutions supporting a ban on landmines in 1996, 1997, and 1998.

Bulgaria is a state party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons and ratified amended Protocol II on 3 December 1998. Bulgaria is a member of the Conference on Disarmament and favors using it as a negotiating forum on landmines.[5] In February 1999, Bulgaria’s Ambassador to the United Nations delivered a statement to the Conference on Disarmament calling for negotiation of a ban on antipersonnel landmine transfers through the CD. In his statement, delivered on behalf of Bulgaria and 21 other countries, the Ambassador asserted that “the CD has a role to play in strengthening the existing international regime against antipersonnel landmines.” An APL transfer ban, he said, would bring CD member countries that have declined to sign the Mine Ban Treaty “at least some of the way towards the goal of a total APL ban, and in due course encourage increased participation in the existing international instruments.”[6]

Production, Transfer, and Stockpiling

Bulgaria has produced five types of antipersonnel landmines: the MON-100, the PM-79, the POMD-1, the POMZ-2, and the PSM-1.[7] Bulgaria has also been a landmine exporter; its mines are reported to have been deployed by combatants in Cambodia among other places.[8] On 6 May 1996, Bulgaria declared a three year moratorium on the export of antipersonnel landmines, and in December 1997 this ban was extended indefinitely. Speaking at the Budapest Regional Conference, a government official stated that as of May 1996, landmine production in Bulgaria had “practically stopped.” He also stated that the General Staff of the Armed Forces had already developed a timetable for destruction of existing stockpiles of AP mines within four years of entry-into-force, but that Bulgaria required international assistance in its efforts to eliminate its landmine stockpiles.[9] It does not appear that stockpile destruction has begun. There is no information on the size of Bulgaria’s stockpile.

Landmine Problem and Mine Action

During the Cold War, the Bulgarian government planted several thousand mines near its southern border with Greece, due to unfriendly relations with Greece and as part of its campaign to prevent members of Bulgaria’s Turkish minority from crossing into Greece. In 1992, Bulgaria cleared parts of these minefields, but halted due to financial constraints. Demining resumed in 1997, but as of March 1998, only 10% of the existing minefields had been cleared.[10] A child was killed by a landmine in this region in 1997. The government announced in October 1998 that it would clear the remaining mines from the area.[11] Media reports have also suggested that there are uncleared mines along the border with Romania.[12] Speaking at the Budapest Conference, a government official stated that ten percent of the remaining mines in Bulgaria were cleared in 1997, and requested international assistance in completing this demining effort.[13]


[1]Statement by His Excellency Mr. Slav Danev, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Bulgaria to Canada, Treaty Signing Ceremony, Ottawa, 3 December 1997.


[3]Statement at Budapest Conference by Mr. Trayko Spassov, Senior Specialist, Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Budapest, Hungary, 26-28 March 1998.


[5]Country Profiles, United Nations Demining Database, http:www.un.org.Depts/Landmine/ (Ref. 3/3/99).

[6]Statement by Ambassador Petko Draganov, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Bulgaria to the United Nations Office and the other International Organisations in Geneva, (undated) February 1999.

[7]U.S. Department of Defense, “Mine Facts” CD ROM.

[8]Human Rights Watch Arms Project and Physicians for Human Rights, Landmines: A Deadly Legacy (New York: Human Rights Watch, October 1993), p. 104.

[9]Statement at Budapest Conference by Mr. Trayko Spassov, 26-28 March 1998.


[11]"Bulgaria to Clear Landmines Near Greek Border,” Agence France Presse, 23 October 1998. See also “Bulgarian Officer Deactivates a Landmine on Border with Greece,” Reuters News Picture Service, 27 October 1998.

[12]United States Department of State, Hidden Killers: The Global Problem with Uncleared Landmines, July 1993), p. 60.

[13]Statement at Budapest Conference by Mr. Trayko Spassov, 26-28 March 1998, p. 20.