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


Key developments since March 1999: In December 1999, Turkey reported that a military directive banning the use of AP mines on Turkish territory has been in place since January 1998. In May and December 1999 Turkey stated its intention to join the Mine Ban Treaty in the near future. In March 1999 Turkey signed an agreement with Bulgaria to demine and prohibit future use of mines on their common border. Turkey reported on similar negotiations with Georgia and Azerbaijan, and a similar proposal to Greece. Through the Stability Pact of South Eastern Europe Turkey is proposing a region-wide agreement to clear common borders. The PKK rebel forces apparently continue to use AP mines in Turkey and Northern Iraq.

Mine Ban Policy

Turkey has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty (MBT), but did attend the First Meeting of States Parties (FMSP) in May 1999 as an observer. The Turkish delegate stated that "the security situation around Turkey so far preclude[s] my country from signing the Ottawa Convention." Upon closing his speech, however, he announced the government's intention "to sign the Ottawa Convention at the beginning of the next decade if present conditions would not change adversely."[1]

In its report to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Turkey noted on 15 January 1999 that "a comprehensive study is underway to reassess the country's security requirements and to develop alternative strategies to the use of anti-personnel landmines.” [2] In its 14 December 1999 OSCE report Turkey reaffirmed its intention to join the MBT at the beginning of the next decade if the situation does not “change adversely.”[3]

In a meeting with ICBL members in Geneva in December 1999, Turkish officials noted that landmine policy had changed dramatically in the past two years. They stated Turkey hoped to be in a position to join the treaty in two or three years, assuming the security situation did not deteriorate.[4]

Turkey has attended nearly all of the intersessional meetings of the Standing Committees of Experts of the MBT. Turkey has taken part in regional landmine conferences in Zagreb, Croatia, in June 1999 and in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in June 2000. After abstaining from voting on the 1996 and 1997 UN General Assembly resolutions in support of a landmine ban, Turkey voted in favor of the 1998 and December 1999 pro-ban resolutions.

Turkey's delay in signing the MBT can be attributed to ongoing armed conflict with the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), long-standing concern about the security of its borders in the context of regional rivalries, and the situation in Cyprus where a heavily mined buffer zone divides the Turkish and Greek Cypriot forces. In recent years the conflict with the PKK and some regional rivalries appear to have lessened.

The Turkish government has undertaken bilateral negotiations with some neighboring countries regarding demining of common borders. The first agreement was concluded with Bulgaria on 22 March 1999, prohibiting the use and mandating the removal and destruction of landmines in common border areas. This agreement has been approved by the Turkish Grand National Assembly and was ratified by the Bulgarian Parliament on 15 March 2000, where the hope was expressed that the bilateral agreement was paving the way for Turkey to join the MBT.[5] There have been numerous reports of Turkey's desire to conclude similar agreements with its other neighbors. According to the Turkish delegation’s statement at the Ljubljana Regional Conference on Landmines on 21 June 2000, negotiations are underway with Georgia and Azerbaijan, while a response to Turkey’s proposal is awaited from Greece.[6]

Turkey has also pursued this idea within the framework of the Stability Pact of South Eastern Europe, where its submission to Working Table III (Security Issues) is entitled “Regional Agreement for Common State Borders to be Kept Free from Mines.” The objective of this proposal is “a legally binding agreement between the states in the SEE region to eliminate all anti-personnel mines placed and/or stored along common border areas."[7] The importance of these initiatives is increased by the fact that, of the nations bordering Turkey, only Bulgaria is a party to the MBT and only Greece is a signatory.

Turkey is a signatory to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and announced in June 2000 that ratification of the CCW and its Amended Protocol II was underway.[8] It also participated, as an observer, in the First Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II in December 1999.

As a member of the Conference on Disarmament (CD), it continues to support the CD as an appropriate forum for addressing the landmine issue, stating that "a global regime against antipersonnel mines would be enhanced if a transfer ban in the CD is pursued."[9]

Production, Transfer and Stockpile

Turkey is not known to have exported antipersonnel mines but has produced and imported them.[10] In June 2000, Turkish officials told a representative of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines that Turkey no longer produces AP mines, but there has been no formal confirmation of this information.[11] Its 1996 moratorium on the sale and transfer of AP mines was extended on 15 October 1998 for a further three years from its expiry on January 1999.[12] Turkey will not reveal details about its current stockpile of AP mines, but past production and import of AP mines suggests that stockpiles are substantial.

The United States is believed to maintain a stockpile in Turkey of 1,100 U.S. Air Force Gator antipersonnel mines.[13]


From the recent initiatives with Bulgaria, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Greece, it can be concluded that these borders have been mined, although the extent and exact locations of minefields have not been made known. The borders with Syria, Iran and Iraq are also mined, and it is in this southeast region where there has been the most widespread use of mines by both sides in the conflict between Turkey and the PKK (For more detail, see Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 821-823). Confirmation of mine use by either side in the PKK conflict is difficult, as access to the southeastern region is often severely restricted.

During the First Meeting of States Parties to the MBT in May 1999 the Turkish delegation disputed information in the Landmine Monitor Report 1999 about mine use, stating that “the report contains incorrect, inaccurate and misleading information with regard to my country.... [N]ew antipersonnel mines were not laid by my government, more precisely by the Turkish Army, between December 1997 to early 1999 as alleged in the report."[14] In a January 2000 letter to the ICBL, Turkey's Permanent Mission to the UN stated that "not even a single mine had been planted in Turkey since January 1998."[15] In December 1999, Turkey reported to the OSCE that “with humanitarian considerations in mind, a directive has been issued by the Chief of Turkish General Staff in January 1998, banning the use of APMs on Turkish territory. A phased demining initiative in Turkey is also intended by this directive.”[16]

Landmine Monitor has no evidence and has received no allegations of new use of AP mines by Turkish forces in the current reporting period of March 1999 to May 2000.


Landmine Monitor Report 1999 also reported use of AP mines by PKK forces, and it appears that use has continued. There are frequent accusations of landmine use by the PKK. Turkish officials maintain that "APM's are being indiscriminately used by the PKK terrorist organization."[17] On 17 July 1999, the Voice of Iraqi Kurdistan radio claimed that the PKK emplaced landmines in July along roads in the Chaman border area. A local man was reported injured by one of these mines.[18] A United Nations report in June 2000 noted that the UN Office for Project Services “remains concerned about the incidences of freshly laid mines being found in previously cleared minefields” in Northern Iraq.[19] The report does not identify the user of mines.

Turkey states that during operations against the PKK the security forces "regularly recover AP mines."[20] According to an Italian press report, since 1994, a total of 14,025 devices have been seized, 11,339 of them across the Turkish border with Iraq where the PKK has bases. This total includes over 12,000 Italian AP mines, alleged to have been supplied by Saddam Hussein from Italian exports to Iraq in the 1980s.[21] This press report is based in part on material supplied the Turkish military, and also a dossier prepared by the municipal authority in Florence, Italy.[22] Another report apparently based on the same data stated that Turkish security forces captured 15,000 landmines from the PKK, of which 3,250 were seized in Turkey's South Anatolia region and the remainder found in Northern Iraq. Of the 3,250 mines, 2,866 were reported to be AP mines and 384 were antitank mines.[23]

Representatives of the PKK attended a conference on non-state actors and banning landmines in Geneva on 24-25 March 2000. While several non-state actors attending the conference declared they will not use landmines, the PKK was not one of them. At the conference the PKK representatives spoke only of how Kurdish civilians have suffered from mines.[24]

There has also been one report of a cache of landmines seized during a series of raids against the militant Islamic group Hezbollah in February 2000; the number and types of mines seized were not reported.[25]

Mine Clearance

Turkey has engaged in mine clearance operations, ostensibly along the Bulgarian border and perhaps elsewhere. Details of the “phased demining initiative” noted above have not been reported. At the FMSP Turkey spoke of unspecified demining operations, and these were described as "ongoing" in January 2000.[26] In a report submitted to Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, the Southeast Industrialist and Businessmen's Association called for the demining of the border with Northern Iraq to allow for trade across the border.[27]

Turkish Parliamentarians reported in 1996 that mined areas have not been properly mapped and marked.[28]

Landmine Casualties

There are reports of landmine casualties in Turkey, concentrated in the southeast and east where conflict between the Turkish government and the PKK has been most intense, as well as in border areas. The casualties involve both military personnel and civilians. In August 1999, Prof. Serdar Necmioglu, chairman of the Medical Faculty Orthopedic and Traumatology Section of Dicle Hospital, stated that the number of patients admitted to that hospital for landmine-related injuries had reached 1,000 for the period between 1990 and 1999. He reported that the rate had increased during 1992-93, but slowed again following 1995. The injuries listed included chest trauma, abdomen, blood vessel and eye injuries in addition to orthopedic damage.[29]

Following the discovery of Italian-made mines in PKK stockpiles, legal action ensued, in the names of those killed or wounded as a result. It was estimated that between 1984 and 1999, 368 people died and 1,560 were injured due to these mines in particular.[30] The Sovereignty of Law Association charged that "the Italian government should therefore be held responsible for the consequences of selling them to an illegal organization."[31] Migrants are frequent casualties of Greek minefields having crossed the Turkish/Greek border illegally.[32]

Mine Action Funding and Assistance

Turkey has not contributed to the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Clearance. Turkey reports a donation of $50,000 to mine-clearance activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and also that Turkish military units take part in mine clearance there.[33] During the regional conference in Ljubljana the delegation indicated Turkey has participated in mine clearance, contributing funding and personnel, in Kosovo and other countries. The statement also noted that it had organized mine clearance training through NATO Partnership for Peace and various bilateral agreements.[34]


[1] Statement by Mr. V. Vural Altay, Head of Arms Control and Disarmament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the First Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, Maputo, Mozambique, 3-7 May 1999.
[2] Reports of the Permanent Mission of Turkey to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), 15 January 1999.
[3] Report to the OSCE, 14 December 1999, p. 3. This report also noted that a seminar had been organized on 23-24 December 1998 by the General Staff to brief the Turkish Armed Forces on the provisions of the MBT and “other international efforts aimed at the total elimination” of AP mines.
[4] ICBL meeting with members of delegation of Turkey to the First Conference of States Parties to CCW Amended Protocol II, Geneva, 17 December 1999. Notes taken by Stephen Goose.
[5] Republic of Turkey, Ministry of Foreign Affairs web site, Arms Control and Disarmament section, available at: www.mfa.gov.tr/grupa/ai/01.htm; "Bulgarian assembly ratifies landmine removal agreement with Turkey," BBC Worldwide Monitoring, BTA (news agency) 15 March 2000.; also “Assembly Ratifies Bulgarian-Turkish Landmine Agreement,” World News Connection, 15 March 2000.
[6] Statement by the Turkish Delegation, Regional Conference on Landmines, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 21-22 June 2000.
[7] “Humanitarian De-mining,” Summaries of Working Table III Projects, The Stability Pact of South Eastern Europe, available at: http://www.stabilitypact.org.
[8] Statement by the Turkish Delegation at the First Panel of the Regional Conference on Landmines, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 21-22 June 2000.
[9] Statement by Mr. V. Vural Altay, at the FMSP, Maputo, 3-7 May 1999.
[10] For details see, Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 820-821.
[11] Discussion between Susan Walker, ICBL Government Liaison, and two members of the delegation of Turkey to the regional conference on landmines in Slovenia, 21 June 2000.
[12] Ministry of Foreign Affairs web site, Arms Control and Disarmament, Statement of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, document CD/1559, 21 October 1998.
[13] Data as of 1997. Provided to Human Rights Watch by U.S. government sources, March 1999.
[14] Additional Statement by Mr. V. Vural Altay, FMSP, Maputo, 3-7 May 1999.
[15] Erdogan Iscan, Deputy Permanent Representative to the Permanent Mission of Turkey to the UN, Geneva, letter to Susan Walker, International Campaign to Ban Landmines, 17 January 2000.
[16] Report to the OSCE, 14 December 1999, p. 3. Also in December 1999, Turkish officials told the ICBL that mines had not been laid in 4-5 years. ICBL meeting with members of delegation of Turkey to the First Conference of States Parties to CCW Amended Protocol II, Geneva, 17 December 1999.
[17] Statement by Mr. V. Vural Altay, FMSP, Maputo, May 1999.
[18] News Archive, Stratford-Iraq, 17 July 1999, http://www.stratfor.com/meaf/news/an990717.htm.
[19] UN Security Council, Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to paragraph 5 of Security Council resolution 1281 (1999), S/2000/520, 1 June 2000, p. 13. The report addresses distribution of humanitarian supplies throughout Iraq.
[20] Erdogan Iscan, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Turkey to UN in Geneva, letter to Mary Wareham, Human Rights Watch, 12 January 2000.
[21] Fausto Biloslavo, “Almost All the Land Mines Used by the PKK Are Italian,” Il Giornale (newspaper), 1 July 1999, p. 10.
[22] Ibid. According to the latter, in the late 1980s these Italian mines also reached the PKK via a triangular arrangement involving the Swedish firm Bofors, Chartered Industries in Singapore, and Iraq. It was also reported that Italian-licensed mines manufactured in Egypt may have reached the PKK and that Yevgeniy Primakov when head of the Russian KGB secret service facilitated this trade.
[23] “Over 12,000 Land Mines Seized From PKK Italian Made,” World News Connection, 8 October 1999.
[24] “Engaging Non-State Actors in a Landmine Ban,” Conference hosted by Swiss Campaign to Ban Landmines in cooperation with Mines Action Canada, Philippine Campaign to Ban Landmines, UK Working Group on Landmines, and Zimbabwean Campaign to Ban Landmines, Geneva, 24-25 March 2000.
[25] "Turkey to Continue Fighting Terrorism: Interior Minister," Xinhua (news agency), 20 February 2000.
[26] Additional Statement by Mr. V. Vural Altay, at FMSP, Maputo, 3-7 May 1999; also Erdogan Iscan, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the UN, Geneva, letter to Susan Walker, ICBL, 17 January 2000.
[27] “People in the Southeast React Favorably to Ecevit's Comments on Border Trade,” Turkish Daily News, 13 June 2000.
[28] “Turkey Hindered by own Landmines on Syrian Border,” Reuters News Service, 6 December 1996.
[29] “Turkey, Number of Wounded in Mine Explosions Detailed," Istanbul Hurriyet, Ankara edition from FBIS, 9 August 1999.
[30] “Over 12,000 Land Mines Seized from PKK Italian Made,” World News Connection, 8 October 1999.
[31] "Lawsuit Against Italian Government," Turkish Daily News, 14 October 1999.
[32] See report on Greece in this edition of the Landmine Monitor Report 2000.
[33] Reports to the OSCE, 15 January 1999 and 14 December 1999.
[34] Statement by the Turkish Delegation, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 21-22 June 2000.