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Country Reports
Armenia, Landmine Monitor Report 2003


Key developments since May 2002: In 2002, the US trained and equipped 178 personnel at the new National Center for Humanitarian Mine Action, including the first demining company, medical technicians, and mine detecting dog handlers.

Mine Ban Policy

Armenia has not acceded to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and has reiterated that it will not join the treaty unless Azerbaijan agrees to do so. At the opening of an international seminar on banning antipersonnel landmines held in Yerevan in October 2002, Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Tatul Markarian, stated, “Notwithstanding Armenia's security considerations and the defensive value of the anti-personnel landmines, we nevertheless believe that the human and social costs of landmines far outweigh their military significance. Armenia's full participation in the Convention is contingent upon a similar level of political commitment by other parties in the region to adhere to the Treaty and comply with its regime. We are concerned with recent Azerbaijani statements excluding any Azeri accession to the ban.”[1]

In his presentation to the seminar, the Chair of Armenia’s Parliamentary Standing Committee on National Security and Defense, Vahan Hovhannessian, said Armenia’s accession to the treaty was impossible at this time due to its complex regional geopolitical situation.[2] At the conclusion of the seminar, ICBL representatives from the region issued a joint call for the governments of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia to simultaneously accede to the treaty.[3] Government officials have publicly stated that Armenia is willing “to take measures consistent with” the Mine Ban Treaty.[4] These could include a moratorium on the transfer and use of antipersonnel mines.[5]

Representatives of Armenia attended the Fourth Meeting of States Parties in September 2002, but did not participate in intersessional Standing Committee meetings held in 2003. Since 1997, Armenia has voted in support of UN General Assembly resolutions supporting the antipersonnel mine ban, including Resolution 57/74 on 22 November 2002.

Armenia is not a member of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) or its Amended Protocol II on landmines, but it reports that it is considering acceding to Amended Protocol II.[6]

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling, Use

Officials state that mines have never been produced or exported by Armenia.[7] Armenia inherited landmines from the Soviet Union, but the size and composition of the stockpile is not known.

Armenia acknowledges that numerous parties used mines in border and adjacent territories without recording or marking the mined areas during the 1988-1994 conflict with Azerbaijan.[8] The known minefields along the international border are the responsibility of the Armenian Ministry of Defense, which monitors and maintains them and provides fencing and warning signs.[9] The Head of the Engineering Corps told Landmine Monitor that no new antipersonnel mines have been emplaced since 1994 and the existing minefields do not represent any danger to the civilian population.[10]

Landmine Problem

After the 1994 armistice, Army engineers surveyed approximately 1,000 square kilometers of border territories where warfare was waged to record all minefields and dangerous sites. The military units also used all available documentation and information provided by local residents and other participants to the conflict.[11] Most of the minefields are located in the regions of Tavush, Syunik, Vayk and Gegharkunik, along the border with Azerbaijan. Approximately 6,000-8,000 antipersonnel mines lie emplaced in approximately 840 square kilometers of land.[12] Previously, the government has estimated 50,000 to 80,000 emplaced landmines.[13] While few details are available, portions of the Armenian border areas with Turkey are also believed to be mined.[14]

A government commission composed of representatives from various ministries, including the Ministry of Defense, was established in December 2001 to study mined agricultural lands. In August and September 2002, similar regional commissions were also established in the border areas. The governmental and regional commissions identified areas that need to be cleared of landmines for further use by civilian population and identified land parcels that were subsequently exempted (by a Government Decree) from land tax.[15]

Mine Action

The US remains the sole donor for mine action in Armenia. For the first time, the national budget for 2003, approved by the National Assembly of Armenia in December 2002, includes a special line item of 50 million AMD (approximately $85,000) for demining operations in the Tavush and Syunik regions, scheduled to begin in April 2003.

On 16 March 2002, the National Center for Humanitarian Mine Action was officially opened in the town of Echmiadzin, 25 kilometers from the capital, Yerevan. The US State Department provided funding to renovate this facility.[16] In its fiscal year 2001, the US provided $850,000 for mine action in Armenia. In FY 2002, the US provided $4.52 million. A total of $2.72 million went to the US company RONCO to train and equip personnel at the new national center, including the first demining company, medical technicians, and a mine detecting dog section. In 2002, 178 deminers, medics, dog handlers and staff personnel were trained and equipped. An additional $1.8 million was provided by the US Embassy in 2002 from its Freedom Support Act funds, to augment the demining program, assist in the establishment of the center, and purchase a mechanical vegetation removal system.[17] The center has 14 mine detecting dogs for which funding was provided by the Armenian Assembly of America from private donations.[18]

Beginning in October 2002, 58 deminers conducted a survey of 40 hectares near Idjevan in the Tavush region. They worked primarily in the former village of Soghlu that prior to the conflict was populated mainly by Azeris. No mines were found during this operation, but a large number of fragments of landmines and of other explosives was discovered and neutralized.

On 16 May 2003, 60 more deminers graduated from the Center in Echmiadzin; they will start mine clearance in the south of the country, in Syunik region.[19]

Landmine Casualties

There are no official statistics available on the number of landmine casualties in Armenia, but in 2002, no incidents of landmine-related civilian casualties were reported. The Ministry of Defense does not provide information on landmine casualties among military personnel. There were no landmine-related casualties among military deminers reported to October 2002.[20] In 2001, five mine casualties were reported.

The Armenian National Committee of the ICBL is compiling and verifying a database on landmine casualties in Armenia. As of April 2002, the database contained information on 343 survivors, including both soldiers and civilians injured in landmine incidents in 11 provinces of Armenia; of these survivors, 228 were injured after the armistice was signed in May 1994.[21]

Survivor Assistance and Disability Policy and Practice

Military mine casualties have greater access to medical and rehabilitative facilities than civilian casualties, but generally Armenia has an adequate material-technical base and qualified personnel for specialized medical assistance, for producing prosthetic appliances, and for rehabilitating and reintegrating landmine survivors. Armenia has a wide network of health care facilities, but their ability to address the needs of landmine survivors is limited by a lack of adequate resources.[22] According to the Armenian National Committee of the ICBL, one of the main problems that landmine survivors are facing is the lack of psychosocial rehabilitation.

In January 2002, the Yerevan Prosthetic-Orthopedic Enterprise stopped providing assistance because of a lack of state funding.[23] In late March 2003, the enterprise received its funding and resumed its activities.

Armenia has legislation to protect the rights of persons with disabilities, including landmine survivors.[24] However, the economic situation of the country has resulted in the growing inaccessibility of medical services for a majority of the population, including persons with disabilities.

[1] Notes taken by Landmine Monitor (HRW) of intervention by Tatul Markarian, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, to “Banning Antipersonnel Landmines: Cooperation and Capacity-Building” seminar, Yerevan, 1 October 2002.
[2] Intervention by Tatul Markarian, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, 1 October 2002.
[3] “Lraber” news program, Prometevs TV, 2 October 2002.
[4] Statement of Ambassador Movses Abelian, Permanent Representative to the UN, to the UNGA First Committee debate, New York, 10 October 2002.
[5] Notes taken by Landmine Monitor (HRW) of intervention by Colonel Vostanik Adoyan, Head of the Engineering Corps of the Armed Forces of Armenia, to “Banning Antipersonnel Landmines: Cooperation and Capacity-Building” seminar, Yerevan, 1 October 2002.
[6] Armenia Response to OSCE questionnaire, FSC.DEL/21/03, 3 February 2003, p. 1.
[7] Interview with Colonel Vostanik Adoyan, Head of the Engineering Corps, Yerevan, 27 January 2003; Armenia OSCE Questionnaire, 3 February 2003, p. 2.
[8] Intervention by Colonel Vostanik Adoyan, Head of the Engineering Corps, 1 October 2002.
[9] Interview with Colonel Vostanik Adoyan, Head of the Engineering Corps, Yerevan, 27 January 2003.
[10] Intervention by Colonel Vostanik Adoyan, Head of the Engineering Corps, 1 October 2002.
[11] Interview with Colonel Vostanik Adoyan, Head of the Engineering Corps, Yerevan, 27 January 2003.
[12] Data provided by the Defense Ministry at the “Banning Antipersonnel Landmines” seminar in Yerevan, 1 October 2003.
[13] Reply of the Republic of Armenia to the Questionnaire on Anti-Personnel Landmines, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, FSC.DEL/92/00, 29 March 2000.
[14] Intervention by Colonel Vostanik Adoyan, Head of the Engineering Corps, 1 October 2002.
[15] Mined land was privatized and given to peasants, for a number of years local residents paid tax for the lands that were not used. For details see Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 609.
[16] Interview with Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Baghdassarian, Head of the Armenian National Center for Humanitarian Mine Action, 28 August 2002.
[17] US Department of State, “To Walk the Earth in Safety,” September 2002, p. 34.
[18] Interviews with Lloyd Carpenter, Program Manager, RONCO, Yerevan, 3 February 2003, and Echmiadzin, 25 March 2003.
[19] Novoye vremya (newspaper), 17 May 2003.
[20] “Lraber” news program, Prometevs TV, 28 October 2002.
[21] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 611; Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 853.
[22] For details see Landmine Monitor Report 2002, pp. 611-612.
[23] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 612.
[24] Ibid.