Demilitarization for a safer and environmentally sustainable Montenegro

01 Nov 2013

image MONDEM Donor conference; Photo: Ministry of Defence of Montenegro

Montenegro succeeded in destruction of a great part of its surplus ammunition. The demilitarization of 1400 tons of conventional ammunition in country’s facilities in an environmentally safe manner has been completed, too.

However, there are still over 4000 tons of surplus weapons to be destroyed, which pose an environmental and human security risk. Brezovik, an ammunition storage site also represents a constant menace for the people living within at least 15 kilometers range. It is overstocked, equipped with inadequate security protection and exceeding safe explosive limits, therefore it has to be upgraded.

In collaboration with the OSCE, UNDP supported the development and implementation of the Montenegro Demilitarization Programme (MONDEM), funded by Governments of Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom, including donor participation through the OSCE – Spain, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Hungary, Norway, Turkey, Slovakia and Slovenia. The Government of Montenegro has also committed € 964.196,22 obtained by recycling of old weapons and by destroying of ammunition.

Both OSCE and UNDP have been engaged in helping post-conflict states across the region to reduce and secure weapons stocks, among which Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Tajikistan and Ukraine.

Since 2007 the MONDEM has promoted Montenegro as a responsible future member of the European family. Its goal is to help create a safe, sustainable and rationalized military arsenal in Montenegro. The programme has four focuses: 1) the disposal of hazardous rocket propellant; 2) stockpile management and security; 3) demilitarization, and 4) destruction of heavy weapons.

Through the MONDEM, the risk of any incident at the Taraš storage depot has been neutralized by complete reconstruction of the object in accordance with the highest security standards. Also, the destruction and recycling of heavy weapon systems has been successfully completed.

Dismantling and melting for scrap of 60 T-55 tanks and 1000 field artillery pieces conveyed a powerful message that Montenegro was poised for a new era of peace.

Furthermore, a serious threat to public health and the Kotor Bay has been removed by successful disposal of over 115 tons of toxic hazardous substances mélange oxidizer.

UNDP/SEESAC (The South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of the Small Arms and Light Weapons) provided support to the MONDEM, too, and they significantly contributed to the Gender Mainstreaming in the Security Sector Reform in the Western Balkans.

MONDEM proved to be a good model for implementing large and complex projects which regard human security and development. In fact, it represents an example of a successful cooperation between the Government of Montenegro and international partners.

This particular modus operandi has already served as a role model to BiH and Serbia, and could be used as a layout for future partnerships in this part of the world, in any field of sustainable development.

Further financial and expert support is needed for destruction of the remaining 4000 tons of surpluses and around €2,4 million is needed for the reconstruction of the Brezovik ammunition depot.

In order to mobilize resources for the remaining MONDEM projects a donor conference was organized. Attendees were addressed by Mr. Lamberto Zannier, OSCE Secretary General, Minister of Defence prof. dr Milica Pejanović-Đurišić and UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative to Montenegro Mr. Rastislav Vrbensky.

OSCE Secretary General Mr. Lamberto Zannier said that the MONDEM is one of most important and useful field projects in Montenegro, but a lot of work remains to be done. “Over a thousand tons of unstable and obsolete ammunition must be destroyed until the end of 2013, and that requires another 1 million euros. Also, the work on infrastructure improvement of the biggest storage ammunition 'Brezovik' is ahead of us, and approximately €2.4 million investment will be needed,” Mr. Zannier explained.

Minister of Defence prof. dr Milica Pejanović-Đurišić stressed that Montenegro remains strongly committed to membership in the collective security system and to the organization of the army as a small, efficient and professional to suit the needs of population. „MONDEM has a positive impact not just on the security, but also on the awareness that the strongest weapon in modern Montenegro cannot be arms but knowledge and the policies that it is implementing,“ Ms. Pejanović-Đurišić said. She underlined the commitment of the Ministry of Defence to further implementation of planned activities, with the expectation of support needed for continuation of progress in this process.

UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative to Montenegro Mr. Rastislav Vrbensky highlighted the MONDEM benefits: “This Programme works with the Government of Montenegro to reduce potential risks for the local communities near ammunition depots; it contributes to ensuring that surplus military weapons, through their destruction, will never fall in the hands of criminals and terrorists; it promotes Montenegro as a safe tourist destination; it contributes to the environmental protection through destruction of hazardous chemical waste; and promotes sustainable development through a safe, efficient, cost-effective and environmentally benign destruction of conventional ammunition and the recycling of heavy weapons systems into commercial materials.”

After the opening statements, Lieutenant Colonel Nebojša Luković from Directorate for Material Resources presented in detail the results that have been achieved through MONDEM so far, as well as the priorities for the future.