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Country Reports
ARMENIA, Landmine Monitor Report 2000
LM Report 2000 Full Report   Executive Summary   Key Findings   Key Developments   Translated Country Reports



Armenia and Azerbaijan engaged in conflict over the Nagorny-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan from 1988 to 1994. Nagorny-Karabakh is an autonomous region of western Azerbaijan, but the majority of the inhabitants are Armenian. Mines were used by all sides in the conflict. A cease-fire agreement was signed in May 1994, but negotiations for a final peace settlement are on-going under the auspices of the OSCE. Landmines and demining are reportedly on the agenda of the peace negotiations.[1] (See also reports on Azerbaijan and Nagorny-Karabakh.)

Mine Ban Policy

Armenia has not acceded to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Armenia has made it clear that it will not join the treaty unless Azerbaijan agrees to do so.[2]

In welcoming the entry into force of the Mine Ban Treaty on 1 March 1999, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recognized the “Ottawa Convention as an important step forward in the total elimination of an entire category of excessively injurious weapons.... Armenia’s accession to the Convention is contingent on a similar level of political commitment by other parties in the region to adhere to the Convention and comply with its regime. We are concerned with Azerbaijan’s rigid position not to accede to the Convention, which has remained unchanged from the first steps of the Ottawa process.”[3] Subsequently, at a landmine seminar organized by the Armenian National Committee of the ICBL and IPPNW-Russia in April 2000, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs reiterated the willingness of the government to sign the treaty, but stressed that it had to be done simultaneously by all neighboring countries.[4]

In commenting on the seminar a few days later, Vardan Oskanian, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, noted that at this stage Armenia cannot unilaterally accede to the ban treaty. He said that the landmine issue is being dealt with in conjunction with other issues within the framework of the negotiations on settlement of the Nagorny-Karabakh conflict.[5]

Officials at the Ministry of Defense stated that landmines on the dividing line are an important defense element and mine clearance in those areas in the foreseeable future is problematic for Armenia and, if unilateral, unacceptable. At the same time the readiness was expressed for bilateral talks with Azerbaijan to “design symmetrical measures to that effect.”[6]

In December 1999, Armenia voted in favor of the UN General Assembly resolution supporting the Mine Ban Treaty, as it has with the other pro-ban UNGA resolutions in 1996, 1997 and 1998. Armenia has not participated in the ban treaty intersessional meetings.

Armenia is not a party to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW). However, the government is considering the possibility of acceding to the Amended Protocol II on landmines. In light of this, Armenia told Landmine Monitor that it has decided, on a voluntary basis, to submit the annual report required under Article 13, and to contribute to improving the coordination and effectiveness of mine action.[7]

The government has expressed its belief that the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva is the central forum for negotiating a global ban on mines, even though it is not a member of the CD.[8]

Armenian nongovernmental organizations established the Armenian National Committee of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines in January 1999 and have been very active in raising the issue of a mine ban and other mine-related issues to military and government representatives and with the public at large. Representatives have participated in international and regional conferences and organized a wide range of activities in Armenia, including a seminal meeting with military, government, media and NGO representatives in April 2000, to raise the profile of the mine issue and develop constructive dialogue with all key players in reaching a ban, and to press for mine action and victim assistance.

In a major activity since its establishment the National Committee conducted a poll of 400 individuals in five regions and in the city of Yerevan to gauge the awareness of the population on a number of mine-related issues.[9] One part of the questions related to the government position on the Mine Ban Treaty.

Evaluating the position of the government on non-accession of Armenia to the treaty, 35% of those polled supported the government's position, 23% were against it and 42% did not offer an opinion. Those respondents who disagree with the position taken by the authorities point out a serious danger posed by mines to civilians as their major argument. Only one of the respondents voiced the opinion that Armenia should accede to the treaty immediately, even unilaterally.

Most respondents believe that the main reason why Armenia does not accede to the treaty is that the Karabakh problem is not resolved yet and that all the neighboring states--Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iran--have not acceded. Replying to the question of the possibility of Armenia's acceding to the treaty, almost 80% of respondents believe that Armenia can accede only if the regional security guarantees are given (final solution of the Karabakh problem, durable peace in the region, and accession of the neighboring states).

Production, Transfer, and Stockpiling

Armenia is not believed to be a landmine producer or exporter of antipersonnel mines, though it has no formal restrictions on production or trade in place. In April 2000, the Minister of Defense said that Armenia has not imported landmines since its independence. He said the only landmines in the country were those that had been left at the time of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Specific information about current stockpiles of AP mines is unavailable, but the Minister said that the stock was “negligible.”[10]


Landmines were used by all sides throughout the Nagorny-Karabakh conflict.[11] In an interview, Armenian Defense Minister Harutiunian acknowledged that landmines had been used on a large scale and in a chaotic fashion and that mixed mining (i.e. planting of antitank and antipersonnel mines) was a common occurrence. Individuals who did not have special engineer training often laid those mines, and the minefields were not recorded. That is why mine clearance in those areas may pose a serious problem in the future.[12]

The Armenian forces used Soviet-made mines, primarily PMN, MON and PMD. OZM-type mines were also used, but the Head of the Engineer Troops Colonel V. Adoyan asserted that by now most of them would no longer be operational.[13]

In 1998 the United Nations indicated that mines continued to be used.[14] While an Azerbaijan military official alleged in April 2000 that “Armenian sabotage and reconnaissance squads” enter Azeri territory and mine roads and shepherd’s paths,[15] Landmine Monitor has not found concrete evidence of such use. Defense Minister Harutiunian has stated that since his appointment to the position in June 1999 not a single order to lay new landmines had been issued. He further stated that it is not planned to issue such orders in the future provided the military-political situation in the region remains stable.[16]

Although it has been reported that landmines are laid on the Armenian-Turkish border, the Head of the Armenian Engineer Troops stated this is incorrect. He said this segment is guarded by the joint forces of Russian and Armenian border guards and no landmines are used. However, he acknowledged there is a reserve stock of landmines in ammunition depots in the rear for “threat-posing emergencies.” Moreover, he stated that mines are not used around strategic installations, including nuclear power plants.[17]

Landmine Problem

According to the Ministry of Defense, the 900 kilometer-long line that divides the warring sides is replete with landmines. In a statement to the OSCE, the government noted an estimated 50-80,000 mines along the border.[18] The Ministry of Defense has said that minefields and mined areas on the dividing line are, as a rule, beyond the forward posts of the stationed troops and border guards, enclosed with barbwire and the local population is well-informed.[19]

Territories bordering on the dividing line are regarded as mine-contaminated. These are agricultural and woodlands where warfare was conducted and/or which came under fire. At least 1,700 hectares in regions bordering on Azerbaijan are in need of engineer reconnaissance, demining and/or clearance of unexploded ammunition. The Armenian Defense Ministry has been conducting such activities on its own and has expressed its interest in cooperation and in technical and financial assistance of international organizations. [20]

According to information obtained by Landmine Monitor during its investigations along the border in ten rural communities of the Syunik region (David-Bek, Kaghnut, Uzhanis, Yeghvard, Agarak, Nerkin Gand, Shirakhog, Srashen, Chekaten, Nerkin Khendzoresk) the regional government indicated that of a total area of 183,000 hectares of agricultural land, some 1,699 hectares had been mined. Within the mined areas, 251 hectares is land that had been privatized and given to peasants, including 236 hectares of arable land and 15 hectares of vineyards. Some 1,448 hectares of non-privatized land, including 393 hectares of arable land and 1,055 hectares of pasturelands had also been mined.[21] From 1994-1999, in Syunik region, landmines were the cause of thirty deaths, forty-four injuries, and also killed 197 cattle (including cows, sheep and horses) and destroyed 27 vehicles.[22]

In the Tavush region, bordering with Georgia and Azerbaijan, with a total area of 27,150 square kilometers, the regional government reported some 9,409 hectares of privatized land had been mined, including 4,777 hectares of areas under crops, 1,198 hectares of vineyards, 1082 hectares of orchards, 678 hectares of hayfields and 1,674 hecatres of pasture land.[23]

Forty-two villages in the Tavush region are located very close to the border with Azerbaijan, including fourteen villages that are located not more than one kilometer from the border. Close proximity to the border and mined land are a serious hindrance for the villagers to enage in farming.[24]

Mine Action

Armenia is not known to have contributed to international mine action programs. Armenia inherited Soviet equipment that could be used for mine clearance.[25] To date, no humanitarian mine clearance projects have been implemented in Armenia, nor has the government been allocating money for mine action.

But local governments have started to estimate the damage sustained during the years of conflict as a result of hostilities in general and of mines in particular. They identify the damaged infrastructure (schools, hospitals, houses of culture, residential houses, consumer services facilities, etc.) in order to assess the need in reconstruction activities in the border-areas and to use the assessment as a basis for calculating the required funding and for designing the programs of stage-by-stage mine clearance.

Since the beginning of 2000, there have been some positive changes related to progress in humanitarian demining. Armenia has been taking measures to train combat engineers and has been making conscious efforts to acquire equipment and protective gear for combat engineers.

During a March 2000 visit of Admiral Charles Abbot, an agreement was reached for cooperation between Armenian and US combat engineers in humanitarian demining. A US inter-departmental group on demining was scheduled to visit Armenia in May and conduct special seminars for Armenian combat engineers, and in October 2000, South Caucasus-wide joint exercises will be held in Georgia.[26]

Mine Awareness

Mine awareness programs are not underway in Armenia. At the same time, in the limited context of the Armenian National Committee’s poll previously discussed, the information gathered indicates that the overwhelming majority of respondents (88%) are aware of the danger posed by mined areas, especially for civilians. Some 44% of the respondents in the border areas are aware that there are mined areas in their regions and 10% of the respondents replied that they live in close proximity to mined areas. They believe that the greatest danger is posed by agricultural lands and forests near the border as well as transportation lines and roads with adjacent territories.

Some 33% of respondents did not have information as to whether mine clearance operations had been undertaken in their region and 25% replied that such endeavors had been made primarily in agricultural lands and in roads with adjacent territories. Another 33% held that mine clearance operations had not been undertaken in their district.

The poll indicated that local governments do not take the measures to ensure safety for civilians: 36% noted the absence of warning signs to notify the population about mines and 49% had difficulty answering that question. As to the question of whether mine awareness education programs had been conducted for civilians, only 12% of the respondents replied in the positive. Some 13% of the respondents believed that such programs are offered at schools. Nevertheless, the respondents tend to believe that mine awareness education programs should be offered both to adults (88%) and to secondary school students (93%). The respondents assigned key role to mass media (59%), especially to TV (45%) in raising mine awareness of the population.

The results of the poll indicate that there is a perceived need of mine awareness education programs. Just over 65% of respondents held that they are not sufficiently informed about mine danger and less than 9% believed that they possess sufficient knowledge. Breaking down the answers by the respondents’ gender we could see that men have a clearer idea of actions and behavior than women in case of coming across a landmine. That can be accounted for by the fact that during military service men receive some training about landmines. Thus, mine awareness education is especially important for women.

Landmine Casualties

Reliable data on landmine casualties is not available; it is not considered public information. The Ministry of Health & Social Welfare does not keep track of information on mine victims, nor have NGOs or international organizations made concerted efforts to collect such data. In 1994, the U.S. State Department indicated that there were approximately five to ten casualties per year in Armenia due to landmines.[27] Armenia received a total of $1.15 million in 1993 and 1994 through the U.S. Leahy War Victims Fund for the provision of prosthetics to amputees.[28] A prosthetic workshop had already been put in place in Armenia after the 1989 earthquake. It is estimated that between 300-500 people per year since 1989 received a prosthetic, about half of whom had suffered war related injuries.[29]

There is a difference in medical assistance for military personnel and that available to civilian mine victims. Servicemen wounded by mines receive immediate care at the Central Clinical Military Hospital of the Ministry of Defense for specialized medical assistance. The Hospital keeps track of those wounded (this information is classified) and conducts research on some aspects of landmine-related wounds.

Civilian victims usually get treatment in local hospitals where highly qualified medical assistance is not always available and where records are not kept of mine victims. Information about civilians with wounds of the extremities is relatively more accessible because they are brought to Yerevan to the Center of Traumatology, Orthopedics & Rehabilitation for treatment.

In the course of this research, 108 cases (covering victims from 1992 to the present) provided by the Center of Traumatology were studied. The average age of the victims was from 18 to 40; four were boys under 16 and one was a woman. The extremities of seventy-four of them were amputated. The wounded civilians are primarily residents of the border districts of the country.

Amputees, both military and civilian, get their prosthetic devices from the Yerevan prosthetic and orthopedic plant, which indicated in March 2000, about 1,250 landmine victims have so far received prosthetic devices.[30]

Survivor Assistance

Armenia has a total of 179 hospitals with beds for 25,300 patients. There are also six military hospitals in the country. The largest specialized medical institutions are concentrated in the country’s capital. It is noteworthy that the medical potential of the country for rendering post-traumatic surgical, orthopedic and rehabilitation aid was significantly broadened and strengthened after the devastating Spitak Earthquake of 1988.

Thus, the Center for prosthetics and personnel training was established where the prosthetic appliances, including bio-prosthetic devices, are made which meet the highest standards. The Bavarian Red Cross set up the department of technical orthopedics and rehabilitation affiliated with the Center of traumatology, which produces orthopedic prosthetic devices for children. The International Center for Post-Traumatic rehabilitation was built with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross. Experts employed by these institutions received special training and professional development abroad.

Thus, the country has adequate material-technical base and qualified personnel for rendering specialized medical assistance, producing prosthetic devices and for rehabilitation of landmine victims. At the same time the lack of adequate funding for these institutions poses a serious problem for the country, since the existing facilities and personnel cannot be used efficiently and are not adequately accessible for landmine victims.

A number of NGOs focus on the issues of the disabled and some collaborate with the Ministry to provide humanitarian assistance to the disabled and to ensure their psycho-social reintegration into the community.

Individuals disabled by landmines are to a varying degree taken care of by these NGOs. However, until recently there were no NGOs that would specifically deal with the issues of landmines. Since the establishment of the National Committee of ICBL in January of 1999 one of the coordinators of the Committee, together with a group of orthopedic physicians, initiated some activities targeting the landmine victims, set up a database and a rehabilitation center for those disabled by landmines and for their reintegration into society.

Disability Policy

The issues and rights of the disabled persons are regulated by the “Law about the social protection of the disabled in the Republic of Armenia” adopted by the National Assembly and signed by the President on 24 May 1993. The Law stipulates certain privileges for the disabled, such as free medical treatment and medication, free prosthetic devices and other appliances, free use of public transportation as well as provision of pensions. There are no laws specific to the rights and privileges of civilian mine victims.

Military personnel who are landmine victims and their family members are entitled to privileges and benefits under the law “On social security system for military personnel and their family members” adopted by the National Assembly on 27 October 1998 and signed by the President on 25 November 1998. The Law made provisions for many more privileges and for larger pensions. However if a serviceman is affected by the landmine not at the time of discharging his duties he will be issued a certificate about the wound and he will be given a civilian, not military pension.

The country’s grave economic crisis and scarcity of the State budget result in regular delays in disbursements for health care. The delays have been becoming progressively more protracted and at present they exceed eight months. As of 1 January 2000, the debts of the State to the sector were over 7 billion AMD. Provision of medical services to the disabled for free within the framework of the existing laws is problematic when in reality the State’s funding is unavailable.

At the national level the coordination of the disabled-related issues are overseen by the department of the Ministry of Health & Social Welfare and by the sector for social security of the Ministry of Defense.


[1] United Nations Mine Action Service, “Joint Assessment Mission Report: Azerbaijan,” 5 November 1998, p. 13.
[2] Felix Corley, “Landmine Use Now Set to Continue,” Jane’s Intelligence Review - Pointer, Vol. 5, No. 1, 1 January 1998, p. 2. See also: “Armenia Reluctant to Ban Landmines,” RFE/RL Newsline, 18 November 1997.
[3] “Armenia’s Views on the Issues of Antipersonnel Landmines,” Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Department of Arms Control and International Security, Republic of Armenia, March 1999.
[4] Mr. Ruben Shugarian, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, at landmine seminar, “The issue of antipersonnel mines and its media coverage,” Armenian National Committee of ICBL and IPPNW-Russia, Yerevan, Armenia, 19-21 April 2000. See also, Reply of the Republic of Armenia to the Questionnaire on Anti-Personnel Landmines, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), FSC.DEL/92/00, 29 March 2000.
[5] Minister of Foreign Affairs Vardan Oskanian, interview with Artak Alexanian, of the “Lraber/News” program of “Prometevs,” TV channel, 22 April 2000.
[6] Interview with officials at Defense Ministry of the Republic of Armenia, 19 April 2000.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.
[9] The poll was conducted in Syunik, Tavush, Ararat, Gegharkunik and Yerevan. Of the people interviewed, 83% were between the ages of 21-50, the remainder over 50; 60% were men and the remainder, women. Seventy-four percent have children, 71% a college degree, 41% employed in the education sector, 22% government officials and 14% employed in the health care system. The poll did not pretend to be scientific, but was intended to give an idea about the issues in question.
[10] Interview with Lt.-Gen. Vagharshak Harutiunian, Minister of Defense, Republic of Armenia, 19 April 2000.
[11] See Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 762-765.
[12] Interview with Lt.-General Harutiunian, 19 April 2000.
[13] Interview with Colonel V. Adoyan, 19 April 2000.
[14] United Nations Mine Action Service, “Joint Assessment Mission Report: Azerbaijan,” 5 November 1998, p. 14.
[15] Interview by Azeri researcher with Col. Isa Sadikhov, former deputy of the Minister of Defense, Azerbaijan Campaign to Ban Landmines Office, 17 April 2000.
[16] Interview with Lt.-Gen. Vagharshak Harutiunian, 19 April 2000.
[17] Interview with Col. V. Adoyan, Head of the Engineer Troops, Defense Ministry, 19 April 2000.
[18] Reply to the OSCE Questionnaire on Anti-Personnel Landmines, 29 March 2000.
[19] Information provided by the Ministry of Defense of Armenia, April 2000.
[20] Ibid.
[21] According to the data provided by the Department of Agricultural and Environment, Syunik regional Governor's Office, December 1999. Information checked by Landmine Monitor researcher in investigations in the rural communities noted above.
[22] Interview with Mr. A. Torozian, Head of Department of Agriculture and Environment, Syunik Regional Governor’s office, 13 July 2000.
[23] According to data provided by Tavush regional Governor’s Office, February 2000. Also, checked against information gathered by Landmine Monitor researcher.
[24] Ibid.
[25] U.S. State Department, Hidden Killers, July 1993, p. 48.
[26] “Armenia will take part in the humanitarian mine action program,” Arka News Agency, Noratert, 23 March 2000. This information was confirmed by Vostanik Adoyan, Head of the Engineer Troops Department in the Defense Ministry of Armenia on 20 April 2000.
[27] U.S. State Department, Hidden Killers, December 1994, p. 24.
[28] Portfolio Synopsis: Patrick J. Leahy War Victims Fund, United States Agency for International Development, October 1997.
[29] Telephone interview with Allen Randlov, former Director of the War Victims Fund, 15 March 1999.
[30] According to the data of Yerevan prosthetic and orthopedic enterprise, March, 2000.