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


Mine Ban Policy

Greece signed the Mine Ban Treaty (MBT) on 4 December 1997, but has yet to ratify it. In December 1999, in its report to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the government reiterated its position as outlined in Ottawa when signing the treaty: "[R]atification will take place as soon as conditions relating to the implementation of its relevant provisions are fulfilled."[1]

In June 2000, when asked to indicate what the preconditions for ratification are and when they might be met, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that "efforts in that effect are taking place in all relevant fields.... [However] no timetable for the ratification has been announced."[2] The primary reasons for not ratifying the MBT were explained as threefold. The first is the technical difficulty of removing the landmines remaining after the civil war. The second is the cost and “priorities of the units working on the removal of mines.” And the final concern was the "general situation in our area, adherence or not of other countries to the Ottawa Convention and to the Amended Protocol II to the CCW...."[3] The Ministry added that although it has not yet ratified the MBT, “Greece has taken adequate measures to refrain from acts [which might] undermine the scope of the Treaty....”[4]

The government attended the First Meeting of States Parties (FMSP) in May 1999 in Maputo, but did not make a statement. Greece simply associated itself with the statement of the European Union in the presentation by Mr. Athanassios Theodorakis, Deputy Director-General of the European Commission whose spoke on behalf of the Commission. Most of that statement was focused on the European Commission's contribution to humanitarian mine action.[5] Greece has not participated in any of the intersessional meetings of the Standing Committees of Experts related to the treaty.

Greece voted in favor of the pro-Mine Ban Treaty UN General Assembly resolution in December 1999, as it had in 1997 and 1998.

Greece attended both the Regional Conference on Landmines in Zagreb, Croatia, in June 1999 and in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in June 2000. At the latter conference, the Turkish delegation issued a statement referring to a proposal to Greece to demine the common border, to which (it said) Greece had not responded.[6] It has not been possible to verify this with the Greek government.

Greece ratified Amended Protocol II (Landmines) of the Convention on Conventional Weapons on 20 January 1999.[7] It attended the First Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II in December 1999, and submitted its annual report as required under Article 13 on 3 December 1999, which provided only minimal information. [8]

While not a member of the Conference on Disarmament, Greece has submitted a request for membership, and participates as an observer. It continues to hold the position that "the Conference on Disarmament should deal with the issue of APLs."[9]

Production, Transfer and Stockpile

Greece is known to have produced and exported at least one type of antipersonnel landmine, a copy of the U.S. M16A2.[10] The Foreign Ministry notes that, along with the other members of the European Union, it has observed an unlimited moratorium on the production and transfer of antipersonnel landmines.[11] Its report to the OSCE states that “Greece is neither a producing nor an APL exporting country.”[12]

There is no definitive information on the current size or composition of Greece’s stockpile of antipersonnel mines, although one report indicated a stockpile of 1.5 million mines.[13] In addition to domestic production, Greece is known to have previously imported AP mines from the United States and Italy.[14] In November 1999 the German Ministry of Defense confirmed that it planned to export twenty-three Skorpion mine delivery systems and 36,000 AT-2 antitank mines to Greece.[15]

Use and Landmine Problem

Mines are not known to pose a danger to civilians in the country, although mines dating from the Greek civil war (1947-1949) are found along the northern border. The border with Turkey, in part along the Evros River, has also been mined for decades. The only publicly available information about these minefields comes from occasional press reports of civilian and military casualties occurring along the border, with newspaper maps of the mined area published occasionally as well. Also the border with Bulgaria is mined, although demining there is underway.

Mine Clearance

In November 1997, Greece and Bulgaria agreed to demine their common border.[16] Bulgaria's side of the border was declared landmine-free during fall 1999,[17] while Greece's demining efforts on this border are in progress. The Ministry of Defense estimates that it may take two to three years to complete the demining.[18] The predominant method of mine removal employed by Greece is manual, though canine detection is now being explored.[19]

Regarding mines along the border with Turkey, the Greek position is unclear. In September 1997 Deputy Defense Minister Dimitris Apostolakis said “[T]he minefields will stay as long as we have a frontier on the Evros.”[20] Then, after mine casualties on 31 October 1999, a government spokesman stated that “Greece would forge ahead with its policy on removing land mines....”[21] One month later, after twenty-one casualties occurred in one of the minefields on the border with Turkey, a government spokesman indicated that "minefields in Greece would be cleared as soon as a relevant agreement was ratified by the country's Parliament."[22] And in June 2000 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated, "Greece has taken measures to improve and increase the markings and the perimeters of existing mine-fields...[and] incidents of illegal migrants, inadvertently entering mined areas no longer occur. No [mine] victims have been reported since 1998."[23]

However, landmine casualties have continued to occur in Greek minefields. The details of marking and demining programs have not been reported (Greece’s annual report to the CCW states no more than that demining started on the Bulgarian border in November 1997).[24]

Landmine Casualties and Victim Assistance

Landmine casualties have been reported in the Greek press, in most cases involving illegal immigrants entering the country from Turkey. There appears to be no central register of mine incidents and casualties that is publicly available.[25] Press reports indicate a total of thirty-eight deaths and twenty-six injuries since 1993,[26] including the following:

  • 15 September 1997: three Iraqi Kurds killed, eleven injured (four severely) in a minefield near Nea Vissa-Edirne (near border with Turkey) – reportedly entered “fenced-in minefield and set off two landmines.”[27] Another report of the same incident stated that from 1 January to 15 September 1997, “more than 20 immigrants have died on the Nea Vissa minefields.”[28]
  • 15 June 1998: two soldiers killed, one injured in a minefield near Yemisti Kipon Evrou near the border with Turkey – reportedly by an AP mine in one of the oldest minefields on the border.[29]
  • 31 October 1999: five Iraqi Kurds killed, sixteen injured in a minefield near Kipi border post (on border with Turkey).[30] According to other reports, the minefield was marked.[31]
  • 8 May 2000: one male illegal immigrant killed in a minefield along the Evros River, described as “clearly marked and fenced.”[32]

In most of the incidents occurring on the Turkish border, these reports quote officials as describing the minefields as marked and fenced. For example, the September 1997 incident occurred in a minefield described as surrounded with three layers of barbed wire and with clear signs (“phosphorescent”) every fifteen meters.[33]

Most if not all mine victims on the Turkish border receive emergency treatment in Alexandroupolis Hospital. No details of rehabilitation programs were given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs when asked in June 2000,[34] nor did Greece make any entry under the section provided for “Rehabilitation Programs” in its Protocol II report of 15 October 1999.[35] It appears that survivors are discharged with minimal follow-up and, apparently, nothing that could be considered rehabilitation. In two known cases, mine victims were taken to prison on discharge from hospital. Because most victims are potential asylum-seekers, described and treated as illegal immigrants, many may well attempt to avoid attention, but those who do reach Athens often go to Sismanoglou Hospital as outpatients.

Mine Action Funding

Greece has donated $80,000 to the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Clearance.[36] It also takes part in the Joint Action of the EU Member States providing "financial and technical assistance to landmine victims and affected countries."[37]


[1] Report of the Permanent Mission of Greece to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), 15 December 1999, p. 2.
[2] Faxed statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 14 June 2000; a revised version of this statement was given to an ICBL representative by a representative of Legal Office, General Staff, Hellenic National Defense, at the Regional Conference on Landmines, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 21-22 June 2000.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Statement by Mr. Athanassios Theodorakis, Deputy Director-General, European Commission, at First Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, Maputo, Mozambique, 3-7 May 1999.
[6] Statement by the Turkish Delegation at the First Panel of the Regional Conference on Landmines, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 21-22 June 2000.
[7] Law No. 2652; published in the Official Gazette (No. 249), 3 November 1998.
[8] National Annual Report--Greece, 15 October 1999, to the First Conference of States Parties to CCW Amended Protocol II, 15-17 December 1999.
[9] Report to the OSCE, 15 December 1999, p. 3.
[10] U.S. Department of Defense, “Mine Facts,” CD-ROM.
[11] Fax from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 14 June 2000; see also 97/817/CFSP: Joint Action of 28 November 1997, European Council, Document 497X0817, 28 November 1997; available at: http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex.
[12] Report to the OSCE, 15 December 1999, p. 3.
[13] A Greek journalist cited a figure of 1.5 million at a Medicins du Monde press conference in Athens, 18 September 1997, according to an email from Mines Advisory Group (UK), 23 March 1999.
[14] Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 710, 720-723.
[15] This was widely reported and discussed in the German media: die tageszeitung, 3 and 4 November 1999, Associated Press, 3 November 1999, Handelsblatt, 3 November 1999, Frankfurter Rundschau, 4 November 1999, Südwest Presse, 4 November 1999, Rhein-Zeitung, 4 November 1999, Berliner Zeitung, 4 November 1999, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 4 November, Freitag, 5 November 1999. Concerns have been raised about the AT-2 mine because its sensitive fuse may make the mine function like an AP mine, and therefore banned by the MBT. One antivehicle mine produced by Greece, PYRKAL, has also been identified as a mine of concern. See, Human Rights Watch Fact Sheet, “Antivehicle Mines with Antihandling Devices,” January 2000.
[16] Ibid.
[17] “Border Wiring Removed," PARI Daily from World Reporter, 14 October 1999; untitled note presented by Bulgarian representatives at the MBT Standing Committee of Experts, Geneva, 22-23 May 2000.
[18] Fax from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 14 June 2000; interview with Lt. Col Dinitrios Zafiropoulos, International Law Office, General Staff, Hellenic National Defense, Athens, 26 May 2000.
[19] National Annual Report--Greece, Amended Protocol II, 15 October 1999.
[20] “A River of Blood on the Evros,” Eleftherotypia (daily newspaper), 1 November 1999.
[21] “Greece Sticks to Policy on Removing Land Mines,” Xinhua, 1 November 1999.
[22] Ibid.
[23] Fax from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 14 June 2000.
[24] National Annual Report--Greece, Protocol II, Form B, 15 October 1999.
[25] Interview with Mr. Konstantinos Koutras, Attache, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 29 June 2000.
[26] “Maimed and Seeking a Home, Kurds Languish in Pendeli,” Athens News, 29 January 2000.
[27] “Three Kurds Killed in Minefield After illegally Crossing Border,” Athens News (daily), 16 September 1997.
[28] Doukas Dimakas and Pavlos Alisanoglou, “Demetris Reppas Accuses the Turks,” Ta Nea (daily newspaper), 16 September 1997.
[29] Pavlos Alisanoglou, “Two Soldiers Were Killed and One Injured on a Mission Disabling Landmines,” Ta Nea, 16 June 1998.
[30] "5 Kurdish immigrants killed in Greece border minefield," Associated Press, 31 October 1999.
[31] "Five illegal migrants die at Greek-Turkish Border," Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 31 October 1999.
[32] “Immigrant Killed in Mine Field,” Athens News, 9 May 2000.
[33] Doukas Dimakas and Pavlos Alisanoglou, “Demetris Reppas Accuses the Turks,” Ta Nea, 16 September 1997.
[34] Fax from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 14 June 2000; interview with Mr. Koutras, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 29 June 2000.
[35] National Annual Report--Greece, Protocol II, Form B, 15 October 1999.
[36] “Total Contributions by Donor, October 1994-September 1999," Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action; available at: http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/mine/vtfma.htm.
[37] Report to the OSCE, 15 December 1999.