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


Key developments since March 1999: Existing law was amended on 17 July 1999 to prohibit the export and transit of antipersonnel mines. In March 2000, the Foreign Ministry said that Estonia has less than 1,000 AP mines in its stockpile, which are used for training purposes. Estonia acceded to CCW Amended Protocol II on 20 April 2000.

Mine Ban Policy

Estonia has not signed the Mine Ban Treaty (MBT), despite making statements in favor of a comprehensive ban on antipersonnel mines, and voting in favor of all pro-ban UN General Assembly resolutions. [1] According to an official at the Foreign Ministry, Estonia is concerned that there may be problems with verification of other countries’ compliance with provisions of the MBT. Estonia does not exclude the possibility of joining the MBT, although not in the near future.[2]

Because of its occupation under the Soviet Union, there remains a perceived need for secure defenses, but limited defense budgets preclude acquiring the expensive defense systems thought necessary to substitute for AP mines. At present, there are poor diplomatic relations with Russia, with attacks on the Estonian embassy in Moscow. In this situation, traditional arguments by the military that antipersonnel mines can be an inexpensive and efficient method of slowing massive land invasion are persuasive, despite the small size of actual AP mine stocks in Estonia and the lack of recent production capacity. Although responsible officials recognize that in practice the long-term humanitarian costs of AP mines greatly outweigh their short-term military value, this has yet to be translated into acceptance of the ban.[3]

There are periodic security consultations between Estonia and Finland, and Estonia closely follows Finnish policy on the landmine issue,[4] although the Ministry of Defense insists that there is no need to link the Estonian position on the AP mine issue to that of any other country.[5]

Estonia did not attend the First Meeting of States Parties of the MBT in Maputo, Mozambique in May 1999. It has not sent representatives to any of the MBT’s intersessional meetings of the Standing Committees of Experts.

Estonia acceded to Amended Protocol II (Landmines) of the Convention on Conventional Weapons on 20 April 2000.[6] Estonia would prefer that a ban evolve through the Conference on Disarmament (CD). This remains the government position, as stated in its report to the OSCE:

The Conference on Disarmament has a clear mandate to address conventional disarmament issues. As part of this mandate, the Government of Estonia believes the CD has a role to play in strengthening the existing international regime against anti-personnel landmines. The Conference counts all key countries as its members and also provides for the possibility of active participation by non-members. An APL transfer ban negotiated by the CD would only enhance the task of implementing a global regime against land-mines. Estonia welcomes the initiative of those countries who promote the Conference on Disarmament action on an APL transfer ban and regrets that during its 1999 session the Conference was not able to establish an appropriate mechanism to deal with this issue. The Government of Estonia hopes that a Special Co-ordinator is re-appointed and consultations start during the early party of the Conference’s next session.[7]

Production, Transfer and Stockpile

According to the Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs, Estonia is not now producing AP mines and has not produced them in the past.[8] The “Weapons Act” of 1 January 1996 was amended on 17 July 1999 to prohibit the export and transit of AP mines, related technologies and materials. [9]

In March 2000, the Foreign Ministry said that Estonia has less than 1,000 AP mines in its stockpile, which are used for training purposes.[10]

Landmine Problem and Mine Clearance

Landmines and other explosives left from military operations during World War II and from the Soviet occupation have been cleared from Estonian islands in the Baltic Sea, notably from Pakri and Naissaar, which were used as military test sites by the Soviet army. After these clearance operations there are no more “closed areas” in Estonia. Mines and UXO found occasionally in various parts of Estonia are destroyed by the Rescue Board, a division of the Ministry of Interior that employs about twenty people to perform clearance operations, and which has received British, Swedish and U.S. assistance. There is also a group of well-trained demining specialists in the Estonian Defense Forces, which the government has proposed could be involved in conflict zones elsewhere in the world.[11]

Mine Action and Victim Assistance

In 1999 Estonia contributed US$2,000 to the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Clearance.[12] Officials of the Foreign Ministry said that Estonia is willing to contribute one platoon-sized unit for mine clearance in mine-affected countries. Estonian officers serving in SFOR missions have successfully participated in clearance of minefields in Bosnia. The preferred framework for such assistance would be the Demining 2010 Initiative.[13]

During recent years there have been no mine accidents, but accidents with UXOs still occur. In 1999, several schoolchildren were injured on an island near Tallinn when they attempted to burn a mortar shell. It is possible that there are landmine victims among Afghanistan war veterans. There are legal benefits for disabled people, including any mine/UXO victims, and hospitals in Tallinn and other towns can provide high quality treatment.[14]


[1] For details of Estonia’s previous statements on ban policy, see Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 778.
[2] Interview with Malle Talvet, Political Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tallinn, 10 March 2000.
[3] Analysis formed from interviews with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, January-March 2000.
[4] Interview with Malle Talvet, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 10 March 2000.
[5] Interviews with Erik Männik, Head of Defense Policy Planning, and Hestrid Tedder, Defense Policy and Planning Department, Ministry of Defense, Tallinn, 10 March 2000.
[6] E-mail messages from Hestrid Tedder, Ministry of Defense, 3 May 2000, and from Malle Talvet, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 8 May 2000.
[7] Report of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Estonia to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), 9 December 1999, p.2.
[8] Interview with Tiit Aleksejev, Political Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tallinn, 20 January 1999; fax message from Erik Männik, Ministry of Defense, 10 March 1999.
[9] Report to the OSCE, 9 December 1999. It notes the following additional recently adopted or amended legislation that regulates primarily the transfer, but also the use, production and storage or destruction of AP mines in the Republic of Estonia: Strategic Goods Export and Transit Act (17 July 1999), Regulation on Procedure for Export and Transit of Strategic Goods (9 October 1999), Customs Act (19 January 1998, amended 31 October 1999), and Minister of Defence Regulation on Procedure for Procurement, Storage, Conveyance and Carrying of Weapons and Munitions in the Area of Government and of the Ministry of Defence (2 December 1997).
[10] Interview with Malle Talvet, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 10 March 2000.
[11] Interview with Erik Männik and Hestrid Tedder, Ministry of Defense, 10 March 2000.
[12] Report to the OSCE, 9 December 1999, p. 2.
[13] Interview with Tiit Aleksejev, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tallinn, 20 January 1999; e-mail message, 20 February 1999.
[14] Interview with Malle Talvet, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 10 March 2000.