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Table of Contents
Country Reports
Bulgaria, Landmine Monitor Report 2004

Bulgaria

Key developments since May 2003: Bulgaria is destroying its TM-46 antivehicle mines with antihandling devices, and expects to finish in 2005. Bulgaria, as the 2004 President of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, chaired a workshop on 8 March 2004 on antipersonnel mines and explosive remnants of war. Bulgaria chaired the CCW Group of Governmental Experts studying proposals on mines other than antipersonnel mines until November 2003.

Key developments since 1999: Bulgaria became a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty on 1 March 1999. Sanctions for violations of the treaty were included in the penal code. Bulgaria completed destruction of a stockpile of 885,872 antipersonnel mines in December 2000, far in advance of the treaty deadline. Production ceased in 1998 and in April 2002, production facilities were reported to have been permanently decommissioned. Bulgaria originally intended to retain 10,446 antipersonnel mines, but later reduced this to 4,000. Bulgaria reported having one type of antivehicle mine capable of having an antihandling device and in February 2003, stated that production had been discontinued and that existing stocks were being destroyed. Bulgaria reported that there were 72 minefields on its territory, which had been laid during the Cold War. Clearance of all antipersonnel mines in mined areas was completed by 31 October 1999.

Mine Ban Policy

The Republic of Bulgaria signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997 and ratified it on 4 September 1998, becoming a State Party on 1 March 1999. Bulgaria attended only as an observer the preparatory meetings of the Ottawa Process and the treaty negotiations in Oslo in September 1997. Bulgaria participated in regional landmine conferences in Hungary in 1998, in Croatia in 1999, and in Slovenia in 2000.

Implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty in Bulgaria was planned by an interdepartmental working group set up in August 1999, and sanctions for violations of the treaty were included in the penal code.[1]

Bulgaria submitted its annual Article 7 transparency report on 22 April 2004. It reports no changes from the previous Article 7 report except for consumption of some mines retained for permitted purposes. It submitted five previous Article 7 reports.[2]

Bulgaria has attended all annual Meetings of States Parties and intersessional meetings since 1999. At the Fifth Meeting of States Parties in September 2003, Bulgaria offered to share its expertise in stockpile destruction. It acknowledged the role of NGOs in efforts to universalize the treaty, urged all States not party to the treaty to join, and called on all current users of antipersonnel mines to cease immediately.[3]

In recent years, during bilateral discussions, Bulgaria has encouraged Greece, Turkey and the Ukraine to ratify or accede to the treaty.[4] In December 2003, Bulgaria voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution 58/53, which calls for universalization and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. Bulgaria has voted for every annual pro-ban UN General Assembly resolutions since 1996. In the UN Security Council in November 2003, Bulgaria’s representative supported calls for mine action to be included in peacekeeping and disarmament activities, and for adequate funding of mine action.[5]

Bulgaria has not engaged in the extensive discussions that States Parties have had during meetings on matters of interpretation and implementation related to Articles 1, 2, and 3. However, largely in response to Landmine Monitor inquiries, Bulgaria has made some statements about its views and practice on issues related to joint military operations with non-States Parties, foreign stockpiling and transit of antipersonnel mines, and antivehicle mines with sensitive fuzes or antihandling devices.

Bulgaria stated in February 2003 that “the Bulgarian army participates in joint exercises with some neighboring countries not signatories of the Ottawa Convention but no prohibited activities involving antipersonnel mines are planned or executed during the exercises.”[6] Guidelines regarding the Mine Ban Treaty’s prohibition on assistance with banned acts, and participation in activities involving antipersonnel mines have been included in the training curriculum for military officers.[7] Bulgaria and the United States held the “Bulwark 04” joint military exercise in eastern Bulgaria in July–August 2004.

In December 2003, Parliament supported in principle the stationing of US military bases in Bulgaria.[8] Regarding the legality under the Mine Ban Treaty of transit and stockpiling of foreign antipersonnel mines on Bulgarian national territory, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in March 2004 that Bulgaria’s position is “based on its obligations in accordance with Article 1 and Article 2, paragraph 2 of the Ottawa Convention.”[9]

In February 2002, Landmine Monitor invited Bulgaria to make known its position on the legality under the Mine Ban Treaty of antivehicle mines with antihandling devices and sensitive fuzes capable of being detonated by the unintentional act of a person. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded that Bulgaria had a stockpile of 2,894 antivehicle mines of four types, and that three types were “impossible to activate unintentionally by a person.” The TM-46 was identified as the only antivehicle mine capable of having an antihandling device.[10] In February 2003, the Ministry reported that production of the TM-46 had been discontinued. Existing stocks were decommissioned and in the process of destruction.[11] The destruction process is expected to be completed by the end of 2005.[12]

Bulgaria is a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its Amended Protocol II, and attended the Fifth Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II in November 2003. On 23 October 2003, Bulgaria submitted its annual report as required by Article 13 of the Protocol. It has attended the annual conferences and submitted reports in previous years. From 2001-2003, Bulgaria chaired the CCW Group of Governmental Experts studying proposals on mines other than antipersonnel mines. Bulgaria also supports the new Protocol V on explosive remnants of war.

Bulgaria, as President in 2004 of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), chaired a workshop on 8 March on antipersonnel mines and explosive remnants of war. At an OSCE meeting on 23 October 2003, Bulgaria supported proposals that the OSCE “step up efforts in responding to the challenge of landmines.”[13]

NGO Activity

In November 2003, the Bulgarian Group for Demining held an exhibition in the Academy of Sciences to highlight the global mine problem. The Group has developed an information manual on mines for Bulgarian troops serving in Iraq, and a mine awareness brochure for people living near Bulgaria’s border with Greece.[14] The Group was formally registered in May 2002. In September 2003, the Group published two press articles on the launch of the Landmine Monitor Report 2003. Similar articles were published in 2002.[15]

Production and Transfer

Bulgaria was formerly a producer and exporter of antipersonnel mines. Bulgarian mines are reported to have been used in Cambodia and other countries.[16] Production ceased in 1998 and export ceased in 1996. In April 2002, Bulgaria reported that production facilities were permanently decommissioned.[17]

Stockpiling and Destruction

Bulgaria reported that in 1999 its stockpile of antipersonnel mines totaled 885,872.[18] The program of stockpile destruction started in March 1999, as soon as the treaty entered into force in Bulgaria, and was completed in December 2000.[19] The deadline set by the Mine Ban Treaty for Bulgaria to complete stockpile destruction was 1 March 2003.

Bulgaria originally stated that it would retain 10,446 antipersonnel mines, but in its April 2000 Article 7 report indicated it would instead keep 4,000.[20] At the end of March 2004, Bulgaria retained 3,688 antipersonnel mines. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that retained mines were used for training of army personnel participating in peacekeeping missions. Five mines had been consumed in the period 31 March 2003-31 March 2004.[21] None of the retained mines were consumed in the year before that, while 327 were consumed from 1 March 2001–31 March 2002 in training army engineers.[22]

Landmine Problem and Mine Clearance

Bulgaria reported that there were 72 minefields on its territory, which had been laid during the Cold War.[23] On the southern border with Greece there were 68 minefields along 71 kilometers.[24] The border with Turkey was also mined. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied that Bulgaria had laid minefields on its borders with Romania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.[25]

Clearance of all antipersonnel mines in mined areas was completed by 31 October 1999, according to Bulgaria’s April 2000 Article 7 report.[26] The deadline set by the Mine Ban Treaty for Bulgaria to complete clearance of mined areas was 1 March 2009.

Clearance of the Greek border started in 1992, halted due to financial constraints, and was resumed in 1997. By March 1998, only about ten percent of mines in this area had been cleared.[27] The mined areas were described as partially wooded, where fallen trees and landslips made clearance difficult. There were records of the minefields, but local people had removed fencing and used some of the mined areas for logging and grazing animals. A total of 13,926 mines (all PSM-1 mines with tripwires) were destroyed in situ or removed and destroyed, releasing 13,364 acres of land (approximately 54 square kilometers).[28]

In March 1999, Bulgaria signed an agreement with Turkey that each country would demine its side of the border. In Bulgaria, the mined area totaled about 1,000 hectares (10,000,000 square meters). Bulgaria started clearance operations in April 1999, and finished by October 1999.[29]

Mine Action Assistance

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that Bulgaria has not received or provided financial or other assistance for mine-related operations from 2002–2004. No Bulgarian companies produce equipment or technology for mine detection or clearance. However, Bulgaria possesses technology for the destruction and dismantling of certain types of antipersonnel mine, and the army could “provide demining experts for training and monitoring of demining activities in 2 years and a few demining units (platoon size) for the operational needs and security of peace support operations in four to five years.” International funding would be needed.[30] The readiness of Bulgaria to assist in international mine clearance operations has also been stated at annual meetings of States Parties.

Landmine Casualties

The only mine-related casualties in Bulgaria since 1999 occurred in 2001. Two military personnel were killed and one was injured when a PSM-1 mine exploded during training.[31]


[1] Letter from Ivan Piperkov, Head of Global Security and Disarmament Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2 July 2001. Legislation and penal sanctions are detailed in Bulgaria’s Article 7 Report, Form A, 22 April 2002.
[2] See Article 7 reports submitted: 22 April 2004 (for the period 31 March 2003–31 March 2004); 18 April 2003 (for the period 31 March 2002–31 March 2003); 22 April 2002 (for the period 1 March 2001–31 March 2002); 1 March 2001 (for the period 5 April 2000–1 March 2001); 5 April 2000 (for the period 27 July 1999–5 April 2000); 27 August 1999 (for the period 1 March–27 August 1999).
[3] Statement by Roumen Subev, Chargé d’Affaires, Bulgarian Embassy in Thailand, Fifth Meeting of States Parties, Bangkok, 16 September 2003.
[4] Email from Ivan Piperkov, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 29 March 2004.
[5] “Action against mines dynamic component of peacekeeping operations, Under-Secretary-General tells Security Council,” UN Security Council, 13 November 2003.
[6] Email from Ivan Piperkov, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 7 February 2003.
[7] Ibid.
[8] “Bulgarian Parliament Supports US Base Relocation in Principle”, Southeast Europe Times, 19 December 2003.
[9] Email from Ivan Piperkov, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 29 March 2004.
[10] Email from Ivan Piperkov, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 28 May 2002. See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 135.
[11] Email from Ivan Piperkov, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 7 February 2003.
[12] Email from Ivan Piperkov, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 29 March 2004.
[13] Intervention by Bulgaria, 22nd Joint Meeting of the Forum for Security Co-operation and the Permanent Council, OSCE, Vienna, 23 October 2003.
[14] Emails from Naiden Iliev, President, Bulgarian Group for Demining, 3 and 29 October 2003.
[15] Karel Bartosik, “Landmine Monitor,” Spot On (English-language Bulgarian periodical), Issue 22, October 2002, p. 20.
[16] Human Rights Watch Arms Project and Physicians for Human Rights, Landmines: A Deadly Legacy (New York: Human Rights Watch, October 1993), p. 104.
[17] Article 7 Report, Form E, 22 April 2002.
[18] Article 7 Report, Form B, 27 August 1999. The seven types stockpiled were: PM-79 (350,181), SHR-II (62,210), OZM (61,893), PMN (59,411), PSM-1 (300,941), MON-50 (38,444), and PFM-1C (12,792). Although not included in the Article 7 report, Bulgaria also possessed MON-100 (47) and MON-200 (48) mines. “Towards a Mine-Free World: the Bulgarian National Contribution – National Program for the Implementation of the Ottawa Convention,” Sofia, August 1999, pp. 19, 32. These mines were retained under Article 3 of the Mine Ban Treaty. In July 2004, Landmine Monitor asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to clarify whether the quantity of 12,792 PFM-1C mines referred to individual mines, or to cassettes which contain 64 or 72 individual mines. As of 17 September 2004, no response was received.
[19] Article 7 Report, Form B, 22 April 2002.
[20] Article 7 Reports, Form D, 5 April 2000 and 22 April 2002. The later report corrects a discrepancy and reports that 4,020 mines were retained initially: 285 PM-79s, 104 OZMs, 103 SHR-IIs, 2,010 PSM-1s, 100 PMNs, 1,011 MON-50s, 47 MON-100s, 48 MON-200s, and 312 PFM-1Cs.
[21] Article 7 Report, Form D, 22 April 2004; email from Ivan Piperkov, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 29 March 2004.
[22] Article 7 Report, Form D, 22 April 2002.
[23] “Towards a Mine-Free World: the Bulgarian National Contribution – National Program for the Implementation of the Ottawa Convention,” Sofia, August 1999, pp. 19, 32. This document also reported that, by the time of its publication, 55 of the 72 minefields had been cleared.
[24] Statement by Trayko Spassov, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Conference on Landmines, Budapest, 26–28 March 1998; email from Ivan Piperkov, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 8 February 2001.
[25] Email from Ivan Piperkov, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 8 February 2001.
[26] Article 7 Report, Form F2, 5 April 2000; CCW Amended Protocol II Article 13 Report, Form A, 26 October 2000.
[27] Statement by Trayko Spassov, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Conference on Landmines, Budapest, 26–28 March 1998.
[28] Lt. Col. Yonko Totevski, “Bulgaria’s Experience in Mine Fields Destruction among [sic] the Common Border with Greece,” Workshop on Regionally Focused Mine Action, South Eastern Europe Initiative, Thessaloniki, Greece, 4–5 May 2000; Bulgaria Response to OSCE Questionnaire, (undated), 2000, p. 1.
[29] Response to OSCE Questionnaire, 13 December 1999, p. 3.
[30] Emails from Ivan Piperkov, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 7 February 2003 and 29 March 2004.
[31] Email from Naiden Illiev, Bulgarian Group for Demining, 2 September 2004. The Foreign Ministry stated that it is not aware of any mine casualties to Bulgarian military personnel or private individuals in 2003–2004. Email from Ivan Piperkov, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 29 March 2004.