In the framework of the regional campaign Landmine Free South Caucasus 2021, a conference on the theme “Mobilising national and international efforts to make Armenia free of landmines and unexploded ordnance” was held in the Armenian capital Yerevan on Thursday, 4 November.
The event was organised by LINKS Europe in association with the Centre for Political and Economic Strategic Studies.
The keynote speaker in the conference was the newly appointed Director of the Centre for Humanitarian Demining and Expertise, Mr Vaghinak Sargsyan, who gave a detailed report of the ongoing efforts of the Centre to clear Armenia of landmines and other unexploded ordnance. Mr Sargsyan said that the role of the Centre was also educational and CHDE was working to increase awareness of the problem of landmines not only in affected communities, but also nation-wide. Mr Sargsyan said that CHDE was open to work in co-operation with international partners for this objective.
Speaking at the event, the Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Armenia, Ambassador Andrea Wiktorin, said that the EU was committed to a world free from landmines, and considered it unacceptable to use landmines anywhere and under any circumstance. The EU was ready to support Armenia in its quest to rid the country of landmines and other unexploded ordnance. She praised the work of Armenian humanitarian deminers, and also welcomed the holding of the regional campaign Landmine Free South Caucasus.
Ambassador Wiktorin said that the European Union would like to see Armenia join the International Convention against anti-personnel landmines – the Ottawa Convention – as soon as possible.
Speaking at the event, the Ombudsman of Armenia, Mr Arman Tatoyan, welcomed the activity of the campaign Landmine Free South Caucasus and said that all efforts needed to be exerted to clear the region from the hazard of unexploded mines and bombs. Mr Tatoyan emphasised that the issue of humanitarian demining was a humanitarian issue and should not be politicised. He also emphasised that different humanitarian issues should not be connected as each had its own value based on international humanitarian law. Mr Tatoyan hailed the work being done by institutions such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the European Union in Armenia and called for further action in support of landmine clearance.
Among those attending the event were representatives of various international organisations, including the United Nations, the HALO Trust, and representatives of various diplomatic missions, including EU member states, UK and Russia, as well as representatives of several civil society organisations.
In the second part of the event, participants familiarised themselves with the activities of the Campaign Landmine Free South Caucasus across the region in 2021. There was then a discussion during which participants made several suggestions about how the work of the Campaign can be taken forward in 2022.
photo: Speakers at the conference "Mobilising national and international efforts to make Armenia free of landmines and unexploded ordnance" held in Yerevan on 4 November 2021.