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


Key developments since March 1999: A Romanian company offered antipersonnel mines for sale at an arms fair in the UK in September 1999; the government called the incident a “regrettable error.”

Mine Ban Policy

When Romania signed the Mine Ban Treaty at the opening ceremony in Ottawa on 3 December 1997, Minister of Foreign Affairs Adrian Severin declared: “Our military experts have no reasons to consider that antipersonnel landmines are essential to guarantee the security of Romania.”[1] Yet, Romania has not yet ratified the MBT.

In November 1999, the Minister of Defense Victor Babiuc stated that “ratification started as a process and will finalize, probably in the first half of the year 2000.”[2] In the same month, the Foreign Ministry stated, “Romania is now in the process of identifying the financial resources for the destruction of stockpiles, in order to be able to ratify the Convention.”[3] The Defense Minister, on 15 February 2000, noted that because “the process of ratification has been relatively recently released, there is no juridical act drawn up....”[4]

In a meeting with the ICBL in October 1999, Romania’s Ambassador to the UN, Mr. Ion Gorita, stated that even though ratification had not taken place, Romania was committed to respect the provisions of the treaty and was in effect already implementing the treaty: no use, no export, no production, beginning of destruction of AP mine stockpiles.[5]

Romanian nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) involved in the mine ban campaign note that there had been regular changes of personnel in charge of the signing and ratification process of the MBT, which may have simply resulted in loss of continuity in the process overall, or may indicate disagreements over the priority to be given to ratification of the MBT. Official responses to inquiries have not been forthcoming from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Officials at the Ministry of Defense said they were unable to assist in the research for Landmine Monitor. No clear and meaningful political support has been expressed for speedy ratification of the MBT in Romania.

Romania attended the First Meeting of States Parties (FMSP) to the MBT in Maputo, Mozambique, in May 1999, where the delegation commented on the financial implications of implementing the MBT. It has participated in most meetings of the intersessional meetings of the Standing Committees of Experts of the MBT, with the exception of those related to victim assistance.

Romania voted in favor of the UN General Assembly Resolution 54/54B urging full implementation of the MBT in December 1999, as it had with the previous pro-ban UNGA resolutions in 1996, 1997, and 1998.

It is a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and in November 1999, it was announced that ratification was underway of the Amended Protocol II (1996). [6] However, one month later, Romania’s report to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) stated “Romania has not signed or started the formal adherence process to the Protocol II.”[7] It attended as an observer the First Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II in Geneva in December 1999.

Romania continues to support “complementary” negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament to ban the transfer of antipersonnel mines.[8]

Production and Stockpiling

In its December 1999 report to the OSCE, Romania stated that it does not produce AP mines.[9] Officials have said that production stopped in 1990.[10] Concerning past production, the Ministry of Defense has confirmed the accuracy of the list of seven types of AP mines presented in the Landmine Monitor Report 1999[11] and offered further data on their technical characteristics. The number of these AP mines currently in stockpiles is not known, but it is thought to be substantial.[12]

The government has stated that the costs of stockpile destruction are a factor influencing MBT ratification and Romania has asked for financial assistance to destroy its stocks. [13] In June 1999 the Chief of the Defense Staff arranged for Romanian experts to visit Austria to discuss stockpile destruction; the trip included a tour of “the premises of UXO-experts as well as a visit to an industrial destruction site at Radmer (private company).”[14] In October 1999, Romania’s UN Ambassador told the ICBL that stockpile destruction began in 1998, but there has been no confirmation of or further information about this.[15]


A moratorium on the transfer of AP mines was declared on 1 July 1995. The export moratorium was extended until 15 September 2000, but plans for future extensions have not been reported.[16] This prohibition did not prevent the Romanian company Romtechnica from offering AP mines for sale in September 1999 at the Defence Systems and Equipment Exhibition International (DSEi) at Chertsey in the United Kingdom. Seven types of mine were being offered, three of which were AP mines: the MAI-75 pressure mine, the MS-3 “Surprise Mine” (formerly designated as the ML-3), and the Leaping Splinter Mine (MSS). Although no details are available to further identify this latter, previously unknown, device, it is considered likely to be a bounding fragmentation AP mine.

The Romtehnica sales representative made it clear to a researcher from the UK who attended the Exhibition that the items were for sale. A color brochure was available for the MS-3 Surprise Mine, which included its technical details. The brochure states that the mine has a dual purpose: it is an anti-lift device and a standard mine. Also available was a List of Romanian Defense Industry Products, which included the other two AP mines, the MSS and the MAI-75.

The UK Working Group on Landmines was informed, and police and customs officials contacted. The issue was widely reported in the press, both in Romania and in the UK. The Romanian authorities explained the incident as a simple error in documentation. Col. Florian Ionica, Romtechnica’s General Manager, told a news conference that two marketing managers had been dismissed and the commercial manager disciplined over an “error of information.... The list, which is not a commercial offer, contained two types of anti-personnel mines produced in the past, but not in current production for either internal use or export.... The inclusion of these two models is a regrettable error for which Romtechnica assumes full responsibility.”[17]

In the UK, in a Written Answer to a Parliamentary Question, the Minister of State for the Armed Forces said:

Following allegations in the British media that a Romanian company was promoting anti-personnel landmines at DSEi, we instructed the MOD Police to investigate the matter. Separately, the Romanian authorities have contacted the MOD to explain that, in error, their company had on its stand literature, which mentioned an anti-personnel landmine. They have informed us that they stopped manufacturing this item in 1990, but that the company had not updated its equipment lists. We have received an apology from the Romanian authorities, but the MOD Police are still investigating the matter and will submit a file to the Crown Prosecution Service in due course.[18]

At each stage of these official explanations, the incident changes: from three AP mines actually on sale, to two (Ionica’s press conference), to one (Romanian explanation to the UK), and from a direct offer of sale to the “mere” inclusion in a list apparently not updated for almost ten years. The explanations are further called into question by a news report that quoted Romtechnica managers as saying that the sales list had been “conceived especially for this event.”[19] Also, a mine clearance expert reports having seen AP mines listed in the Romtechnica sales catalogues at military exhibition in Delhi in March 1998.[20]

NGO Activity

It was the Romtechnica incident that prompted the involvement of the NGO Sibienii Pacifisti (People of Sibiu for Peace) in the landmine issue. The NGO has called upon the authorities to prepare an Article 7 report, even before ratification, as demonstration of the government’s serious commitment to the MBT, but this was ignored. Additionally, to try to speed up the process of ratification, Sibienii Pacifisti addressed two open letters to the Parliament to provide an opportunity for Members of Parliament to call for the ratification process to be prioritized. Although this caught the attention of the press for a few days, there was no clear response from the Government.[21]

To increase public pressure on this issue, a Working Group was formed, focusing on three tasks: to collect information on AP mines appearing in the Romanian press; to contact public officials and others who are involved in this issue; and to provide research for the Landmine Monitor Report 2000. A series of conferences and other activities were organized, especially for academics but also for all representatives of civil society to build public awareness. One particular effort is to find sponsors for its program of assistance to mine victims.

On 27 December 1999 a new Open Letter was addressed this time to the Presidency of Romania, Parliament, Government, Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry, the Embassies of the accredited states in Bucharest, and to all media and press agencies in Romania. This letter called again for the speeding up of ratifying the MBT and requested approval to contact representatives of the Ministries, institutions and relevant companies. The response has been very poor, with the only positive response from the German Consulate in Sibiu. In general, the civilian population as well as politicians are not well informed about the effects of AP mines, perhaps partly because Romania has not been affected by mines.

Mine Action

Romania has made contributions to several mine action programs in recent years: to Angola, with one engineers platoon and vehicle from 1995 to 1997, to Bosnia-Herzegovina with one engineering platoon and associated vehicles and equipment, and to Albania with two engineer squads and vehicles in 1997. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, Romania spent over $330,000 in 1996-1998 on mine clearance efforts.


[1] Adevarul (daily newspaper), 10 December 1997.
[2] Adevarul (daily newspaper), 2 November 1999. See also, Victor Babiuc, Minister of State, Minister of National Defense, Letter to Elizabeth Bernstein, ICBL Coordinator, 3 November 1999.
[3] “Romania’s Integration into NATO,” NATO, WEU and Strategic Issues Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, November 1999; available at: http://domino.kappa.ro/dosare.nsf
[4] Letter from the Minister of Defense to Sibienii Pacifisti, No. SG 700, 15 March 2000.
[5] Amb. Ion Gorita, Permanent Mission of Romania to the UN, meeting with Jody Williams and Steve Goose, ICBL, New York, 6 October 1999.
[6] “Romania’s Integration into NATO,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs, November 1999.
[7] Report of the Permanent Mission of Romania to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), 28 December 1999, p. 2.
[8] “Romania’s Integration into NATO,” NATO, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, November 1999.
[9] Report to the OSCE, 28 December 1999, p. 3.
[10] Victor Babiuc, Minister of State, Minister of National Defense, Letter to Elizabeth Bernstein, ICBL Coordinator, 3 November 1999. The UN Ambassador cited a date of 1993. Amb. Ion Gorita, Permanent Mission of Romania to the UN, meeting with ICBL, New York, 6 October 1999.
[11] Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 756.
[12] The Mines Advisory Group has estimated that it could be several million, based on discussions with Romanian officials. See MAG Stockpile Fact Sheet, September 1998. In addition to AP mines, there are several Romanian produced antivehicle mines of concern. The MC-71 with a tilt rod fuze is likely prohibited by the MBT because of its AP mine-like effect. There are several other models that may also function as AP mines: MAT-46, MAT-62B, MAT-87; P-62.. See, Human Rights Watch Fact Sheet, “Antivehicle Mines with Antihandling Devices,” January 2000.
[13] Telephone interview with a Staff Officer, Ministry of Defense, 16 December 1999.
[14] As reported in Austria’s National Report required by Article 13 of Amended Protocol II, 11 October 1999.
[15] Amb. Ion Gorita, Permanent Mission of Romania to the UN, meeting with ICBL, New York, 6 October 1999.
[16] Report to the OSCE, Romania, 28 December 1999.
[17] “Anti-personnel landmines on sale at the UK arms fair,” UK Working Group on Landmines, November 1999, p. 2.
[18] John Spellar MP, Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Written Answer, Hansard, 3 November 1999, cols. 213-214.
[19] Radu Tudor, “The Leadership of Romtechnica Officially Proved Culpable for the Enormous Blunder Presenting Antipersonnel Mine Lists,” Cotidianul, (daily newspaper), 22 September 1999, p. 3.
[20] Personal communication to the UK Working Group on Landmines, 20 September 1999.
[21] The Open Letter was published in the following newspapers: Dimineata, 21 September 1999; Cotidianul, 22 September 1999; Libertatea, 20 September 1999; Cronica Romana, 22 September 1999; and Ziua, 20 September 1999.