World Bulletin/News Desk
Many have begun to question when Turkey plans to clean up the 1 million land mines believed to be buried underground around the country after two Turkish soldiers died on Thursday as a result of an explosion triggered when one of the men unknowingly stepped on a mine in Agri.
Turkey is a signatory to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, also known as the Ottawa Treaty, which was signed on Dec. 4, 1997. Turkey has been a signatory since Sept. 25, 2004.
The treaty obliges the parties that have signed it to destroy their mine stocks within four years and to clean up buried mines within 10 years. Although it has about a year left to meet this obligation, to date Turkey has not started any work in this regard.
There will be a meeting of the Ottawa Treaty parties within the next month. Sources say Turkey will ask for additional time and promise to clean up 615,419 mines on the Syrian border over the next 42 months.
Turkey has gathered tender applications from 20 shortlisted companies that will bid to carry out the job of clearing the land mines along the Syrian border. However, there is no date set as to when the tender will take place or when the clean-up will to begin.
Sources say Turkey will tell its Ottawa Treaty partners that its Defense Ministry is evaluating the shortlisted companies and will be able to clean up the Syrian border mines within the next four years.
Muteber Ogreten, a spokesperson for the Initiative for a Mine-Free Turkey, said: “Every extension [given to complete the clean-up] means new deaths. Losses due to mine explosions continue. Just yesterday, two soldiers died stepping on mines in a civilian area. We need to get rid of these mines as quickly as possible without any further delays. The urgency is even more evident, especially at this time when there is a peace process underway.”Last Mod: 04 Mayıs 2013, 09:56