+   *    +     +     
About Us 
The Issues 
Our Research Products 
Order Publications 
Press Room 
Resources for Monitor Researchers 
Table of Contents
Country Reports
Macedonia (Former Yugoslav Republic of), Landmine Monitor Report 2003

Macedonia (Former Yugoslav Republic of)

Key developments since May 2002: The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia completed destruction of its stockpile of 38,921 antipersonnel mine stockpile on 20 February 2003. In 2002, a total of nearly 3.9 million square meters of land was cleared, destroying 19 mines and 131 UXO.

Mine Ban Policy

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYR Macedonia) acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty on 9 September 1998, becoming a State Party on 1 March 1999. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, no specific administrative or legislative measures have been introduced to implement the Mine Ban Treaty, but prohibited activities are covered by existing criminal law.[1] In January 2003, FYR Macedonia reported to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that it had not adopted legislation or taken any specific implementation measures “because there is simply no need for it.”[2]

FYR Macedonia has submitted four Article 7 transparency reports, including two in 2003.[3]

FYR Macedonia attended the Fourth Meeting of States Parties in September 2002. On 22 November 2002, FYR Macedonia voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution 57/74, which calls for universalization and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. At intersessional Standing Committee meetings in February 2003, FYR Macedonia reported on its stockpile destruction progress. At the May 2003 Standing Committee meetings, FYR Macedonia reported the completion of the stockpile destruction.

FYR Macedonia is a State Party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), but has not ratified Amended Protocol II. In June 2002, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that ratification would be achieved by the end of the year.[4] In January 2003, FYR Macedonia reported that, “the ratification process will be completed soon.”[5] FYR Macedonia attended the Fourth Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II as an observer in December 2002.

Some of the former Yugoslavia’s mine production facilities were located in FYR Macedonia, but according to the Foreign Ministry production had ceased “even before it [FYR Macedonia] signed and ratified the Ottawa Treaty.”[6] FYR Macedonia’s Article 7 reports all state “nothing to report” with respect to the status of conversion or decommissioning of former production facilities.

Stockpile Destruction

FYR Macedonia completed destruction of its stockpile of 38,921 antipersonnel mine stockpile on 20 February 2003, thereby meeting its treaty-mandated 1 March 2003 deadline.

In 1999, FYR Macedonia reported that it had a stockpile of 42,921 antipersonnel mines.[7] In October 2001, the Ministry of Defense clarified that FYR Macedonia had an additional 8,353 PMA-1 fuzes and 8,353 PMA-1 detonators.[8] On 8 June 2000, 50 “souvenir” antimagnetic plastic antipersonnel mines were destroyed.[9] A further 22,800 antipersonnel mines were destroyed on 6 October 2002 at the Krivolak training center.

The government’s decided on 27 January 2003 to destroy the remaining 16,071 mines in an event on 20 February 2003, at Krivolak, in the presence of invited diplomats, NGOs and other observers.[10] FYR Macedonia’s 15 April 2003 Article 7 Report confirms destruction of these remaining mines, although it does not itemize the quantity of each type destroyed, and no mention is made of the additional fuzes and detonators.[11]

In 1999, FYR Macedonia reported its intent to retain 50 antipersonnel mines for training and development purposes.[12] In June 2002, however, FYR Macedonia reported that it had decided to retain 4,000 mines (1,400 type PMA-1, 600 PMA-2, and 2,000 PMA-2A).[13] This is confirmed in the April 2003 Article 7 report, which also indicated that none of the mines were consumed in the reporting period.[14]

Landmine/UXO Problem

FYR Macedonia’s landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) problem is largely the result of a conflict that broke out in early 2001 between Albanian insurgents (NLA) and FYR Macedonia government security forces.[15] According to the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), UXO poses “by far” the greater threat: “Mines have been laid but their use was limited.... [A]bout 80 villages were affected to varying degrees by UXOs, hampering the safe return of about 100,000 IDPs [internally displaced persons] and refugees.”[16] In mid-July 2002, about 55 villages were still affected, preventing the return of an estimated 8,000 people.[17]

In its report to the OSCE and in an intervention during the May 2003 intersessional meetings, FYR Macedonia referred to the UXO problem in the south of the country, dating from World Wars I and II.[18] Clearance was being planned, but had not been budgeted for by the government, so international donations would be required. The Mine Action Office in Skopje investigated the affected area known as the “Thessalonika line,” which consists of a World War I-era frontline trench stretching for approximately 250 kilometers from Ohrid to Gevgelija. Between in 1965 and 2002, 21,037 items of UXO were found and destroyed from the area, and UXO killed 14 and injured 142 people.

During a meeting held on 27 January 2003 between the Deputy Minister of Defense, Rizvan Sulejmani, and the UN Mine Action Office, it was agreed that the Ministry of Defense would formally request NATO and UN assistance in clearing the affected area.[19]

Unlike previous Article 7 reports, the two submitted in 2003 provided no information on mined areas or mine clearance.[20]

Mine Action Coordination and Mine Clearance

In September 2001, UNMAS opened a Mine Action Office (MAO) in Skopje to coordinate mine action responses and develop a strategy for the rapid implementation of mine clearance and mine risk education. The MAO has two national staff and an international technical advisor, and shares its offices with UNICEF.[21] It is equipped with the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) database. The MAO had a budget of $94,390 for its operations January-June 2003.[22]

In May 2002, UNMAS stated that, with the aim of completing “the clearance of all minefields and UXO affected areas before winter 2002, it [the MAO] will ensure that national EOD [explosive ordnance disposal] units obtain additional training and equipment, if still necessary [and] additional commercial EOD teams could also be employed.”[23] UNMAS reported in December 2002 that it was “assisting both the UNHCR and the OSCE to assess UXO clearance requirements prior to the return of refugees in UXO affected villages.”[24]

In 2002, various actors cleared nearly 3.9 million square meters of affected land, destroying 19 mines and 131 UXO. NATO and FYR Macedonia security forces carried out mine clearance of roads in areas affected by the conflict earlier in that year, and teams from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) carried out mine/UXO clearance in inhabited areas.[25]

The Slovenia-based International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance (ITF) contracted the BiH teams again in 2002 to conduct clearance and train FYR Macedonia personnel.[26] According to the ITF, in 2002 the three teams verified and cleared 1,780,771 square meters, destroying eight antipersonnel mines, an antivehicle mine, and 56 UXO.[27] They mainly worked in the Kumanovo and Tetovo regions, and cleared 504 houses. Operations ended on 4 July 2002. In 2002, the ITF allocated $1,213,653 to fund its operations in FYR Macedonia, including demining, battle area clearance and “train and equip.” This was a substantial increase from 2001 ($474,592). The European Union allocated €1.9 million (US$1.8 million) to mine action in FYR Macedonia in 2002.[28]

Three eight-person FYR Macedonia teams started operations on 30 September 2002 in the Kumanovo region. Two other teams did not have their working status resolved by Ministry of Defense. The MAO and the FYR Macedonia government coordinated work prioritization. The three teams checked and cleared 361,772 square meters, locating five mines and 41 UXO.[29]

Two international organizations also carried out mine/UXO clearance in FYR Macedonia in 2002. On 19 April 2002, Handicap International (HI) and CARE International (CARE) signed an agreement with the government; HI started work in September, while CARE started in October 2002.[30] Both the HI and CARE operations submitted daily and weekly reports to the MAO, which issued quality control certificates.[31]

The HI teams consisted of 25 deminers and two mine detecting dog teams working in the areas of Tanusevci, Leshak, Rogachevo, Ljuboten, Goshince, and Staro Selo. From 2 September to 13 December 2002, they cleared 1,630,260 square meters, destroying one mine and 24 UXO.

CARE contracted the Zimbabwe demining company, Minetech, whose 41 deminers and four mine detecting dog teams worked in Popova Shaka, Selce and Shemshevo. From 4 October to 28 November 2002, CARE’s Minetech teams cleared 83,478 square meters, destroying four antipersonnel mines and ten UXO.[32]

In April 2003, HI, CARE/Minetech, and civil protection teams planned to resume clearance operations in the areas of Umin Dol, Ropalce, and Aracinovo.[33]

Mine Risk Education

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Macedonian Red Cross continue to conduct Mine Risk Education (MRE) in FYR Macedonia, with the ICRC taking the lead.

In early 2002, the ICRC and Macedonian Red Cross initiated a media campaign to reach a wider audience than previous community-based MRE activities. Regional and local television stations in affected areas aired two television spots; one aimed at the general public and one (a cartoon) aimed at young children. In June 2002, an ICRC and Macedonian Red Cross-sponsored MRE theater play, What it means to be brave, targeted at children under 14 years started to perform in villages in the Tetovo and Kumanovo regions and in Skopje, reaching over 1,600 children.[34] In 2002, a total of 94 plays were performed for over 7,500 children.[35]

Landmine Casualties[36]

In 2002, four new mine/UXO casualties were recorded in the MAO database in Skopje; one person was killed and three injured. In 2001, 38 new mine/UXO casualties were recorded by the UNMAO. The majority of incidents in 2001 were antivehicle mines causing multiple casualties.

On 8 May 2002, a KFOR vehicle carrying a mine clearance team detonated a mine in the Lesnica area, northeast of Tetovo, which killed an Italian soldier and injured a German soldier. On 3 November, two policemen were injured by a booby-trap near St. Bogorodica monastery in Matejce.

On 4 March 2003, two Polish soldiers serving with KFOR were killed and three civilians injured when the vehicle they were traveling in detonated a landmine on the road between Sopot and Sicevo, northeast of Skopje.

FYR Macedonia continues to report UXO casualties in the south of the country from World War I and II ordnance. Between 1997 and 2000, five people were killed and another 30 injured in UXO incidents in the popular tourist destination of Struga. Between 1965 and 2002 eight people were killed and 111 injured in the Bitola region. In Gevgelija, one person was killed and another injured by UXO.

Survivor Assistance

The Kosovo Mine Action Coordination Center reported in August 2001, “FYROM has a well-developed medical and hospital system and should be more than capable of dealing with any mine/UXO casualties.”[37] However, the World Health Organization reported that public health services in the country had suffered from a decade of regional instability and difficulties in socioeconomic transition, exacerbated by the influx of refugees following the 1999 Kosovo crisis.[38] Hospitals lack adequately trained staff and medical equipment is often old and in a poor state of repair. The only specialist accident and emergency unit is at the Clinical Center in Skopje.[39] Services providing social care for persons with disabilities, including mine survivors, are reportedly poorly developed.[40]

The Slavej orthopedic center, located within the Clinical Center in Skopje, is the only facility in the country providing orthopedic devices. There is said to be a need for training for physiotherapists in order to provide adequate rehabilitative care. The Clinical Center has only three degree-trained physiotherapists; the other physiotherapists were trained at technical schools (high schools).[41]

In 2002, the ITF provided $28,703 for mine survivor assistance in FYR Macedonia. Seven mine survivors were rehabilitated and fitted with prostheses at the Institute for Rehabilitation in Slovenia. The ITF is also providing funding for one student from FYR Macedonia to study prosthetics and orthotics at the College for Health Studies at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia.[42]

[1] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 329.
[2] Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia response to OSCE Questionnaire, 3 January 2003, p. 3.
[3] Article 7 Report, submitted 15 April 2003 (for the period 15 April 2002–15 April 2003); Article 7 Report, 24 February 2003 (for the period from 6 November 2002); Article 7 Report, 25 June 2002 (for the period 30 April 2001–30 April 2002); Article 7 Report, 25 May 1999 (for the period 4 December 1997–31 March 1999).
[4] Email response to Landmine Monitor questionnaire provided by Ruzica Zanteva Angelova, Counselor, Multilateral Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 25 June 2002. Previous responses from the Ministry indicated ratification by the end of 2000 and by mid-2001. See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 733.
[5] Response to OSCE Questionnaire, 3 January 2003, p. 2.
[6] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 687.
[7] Article 7 Report, Form B, 25 May 1999.
[8] Major Metodija Velickovski, Department of Engineering, Ministry of Defense, “Antipersonnel mine situation in Republic of Macedonia,” Workshop on Regionally-focused Mine Action, NATO Partnership for Peace, Athens, 18-19 October 2001. He also clarified that the first Article 7 Report misreported the PMA2 mines as PMA3 mines.
[9] Article 7 Report, Form D, 25 June 2002.
[10] Colonel Ratko Toncevski, Ministry of Defense, “Mine Stockpile Destruction in Republic of Macedonia,” Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, Geneva, 6 February 2003.
[11] Article 7 Report, Form G, 15 April 2003.
[12] Article 7 Report, Form D, 25 May 1999.
[13] Response to Landmine Monitor questionnaire, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 25 June 2002.
[14] Article 7 Report, Form D, 15 April 2003.
[15] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, pp. 331-333.
[16] “UNMAS Update” in Mine Action Support Group, “Newsletter: December 2002,” p. 13.
[17] Ibid.
[18] Response to OSCE Questionnaire, 3 January 2003, p. 3; Landmine Monitor notes of intervention by FYR Macedonia to Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education, and Mine Action Technologies, Geneva, 14 May 2003.
[19] Interview with Sandy Powell, Project Manager, UN Mine Action Office, Skopje, 21 March 2003; UNMAO, “Situation Report: December 2002;” UNMAO, “Situation Report: January 2003.”
[20] The June 2002 Article 7 Report included details of mine clearance operations conducted in 2001. Article 7 Report, Form C (attachment Table 1), 25 June 2002.
[21] UN, “Portfolio of Mine-Related Projects 2003,” October 2002, pp. 241-244.
[22] Ibid.
[23] UNMAS, “Mine Action Assistance in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM),” website accessed 3 May 2002.
[24] “UNMAS Update” in Mine Action Support Group, “Newsletter: December 2002,” p. 13.
[25] Response to OSCE Questionnaire, 3 January 2003, p. 3; Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 333.
[26] Under the ITF “train and equip” program, 42 civil protection personnel were trained in battle area clearance, demining, EOD and demolition from April to July 2002. Complete equipment was provided for five eight-person teams, including mine detectors, personal protective equipment (donated by the US Department of State) and five ambulance vehicles (donated by the European Agency for Reconstruction). The ITF regards this as its major activity in FYR Macedonia in 2002. ITF, “Annual Report 2002,” p. 35; email from Iztok Hocevar, Project Manager, ITF, 17 April 2003.
[27] ITF, “Annual Report 2002,” p. 35.
[28] Email from Eva Veble, Head of International Relations, ITF, 30 April 2003; email from Catherine Horeftari, European Commission, to Sylvie Brigot, ICBL, 23 May 2003.
[29] Email from Iztok Hocevar, Project Manager, ITF, 17 April 2003; response to OSCE Questionnaire, 3 January 2003, p. 3.
[30] UNMAO, “Situation Report: 13 May 2002;” response to OSCE Questionnaire, 3 January 2003, p. 3.
[31] Response to OSCE Questionnaire, 3 January 2003, p. 3.
[32] UNMAO, “Situation Report: September 2002;” Response to OSCE Questionnaire, 3 January 2003, p. 3.
[33] Interview with Vesna Mirkoska, Assistant, UN Mine Action Office, Skopje, 21 March 2003.
[34] ICRC, “Mine/UXO Awareness Program in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,” 1 November 2002, available at www.icrc.org
[35] Interview with Darko Jordanov, ICRC Skopje, 20 March 2003; ICRC Skopje, “ICRC UXO/Mine Awareness Program in Macedonia,” 10 January 2003.
[36] Information provided to Landmine Monitor Victim Assistance Research Coordinator by Sandy Powell, Project Manager, and Vesna Mirkoska, Assistant, UN Mine Action Office, Skopje, 29 April 2003.
[37] UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, “UNMIK MACC Update - 10/08/2001,” 10 August 2001.
[38] World Health Organization, Department of Emergency and Humanitarian Action, “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,” June 2000, p. 1.
[39] European Observatory on Health Care Systems, “HiT summary: The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 2002, Health Care Systems in Transitions,” accessed at www.observatory.dk on 29 April 2003.
[40] Ibid.
[41] Interview (by Landmine Monitor Victim Assistance Coordinator) with Cathriona McCauley, Disability Project Coordinator, Handicap International, Skopje, 28 April 2003.
[42] ITF, “Annual Report 2002,” p. 23.