Greece

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 13 September 2021

Summary

Non-signatory Greece says that it shares humanitarian concerns over cluster munitions but cannot accede to the convention due to national security concerns. Greece has abstained from voting on a key annual United Nations (UN) resolution promoting the convention in December 2020. It participated as an observer in a meeting of the convention in 2016.

Greece states that it has never used cluster munitions. Greece has produced and imported cluster munitions and possesses a stockpile but has not provided information on the quantities and types stockpiled.

Policy

The Hellenic Republic (Greece) has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Greece has provided several reasons for not acceding to the convention, including national security concerns, the cost of stockpile destruction, and positions of neighboringcountries.[1] In 2016, Greece told the Monitor that “compelling reasons of national defense and issues of operational and financial planning” meant that it could not accede to the convention “in the short term.”[2]

Greece participated in two conferences of the Oslo Process that developed the convention text, in Lima in May 2007 and Vienna in December 2007, but attended the negotiations in Dublin in May 2008 only as an observer and did not sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions when it was opened for signature in December 2008.[3]

Greece participated as an observer in the convention’s Sixth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2016, which marked its first and to date only attendance at a meeting of the convention. It was invited to, but did not attend, the first part of the Second Review Conference held virtually in November 2020.

Greece abstained from voting on a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution urging states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible” in December 2020.[4] It has abstained from the vote on this annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention since it was first introduced in 2015.

In 2015–2018, Greece endorsed joint UNGA statements on cluster munitions made by Poland on behalf of itself and other European Union (EU) member states that are not party to the convention—Estonia, Finland, and Romania—that reiterated the need to meet their own “legitimate security concerns and military and defence needs.”[5]

Greece has voted in favor of UNGA resolutions expressing outrage at the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in December 2020.[6]

Greece is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty. Greece is also party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW).

Use

A government official told the Monitor in 2012 that Greece has never used cluster munitions.[7]

In 2013, a Greek defense blog reported on an “intense debate” by the General Staff of the Greek armed forces over procurement efforts to modernize the country’s ammunition for the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) due to the apparent requirement that Greece “select and implement a solution…required by international treaty to ban cluster munitions.”[8]

Production, transfer, and stockpiling

Greece has produced and imported cluster munitions, but it is unclear if it has ever exported them.[9]

In 2011, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official claimed, “the last production of cluster munitions in Greece was in 2001.”[10] Greece has not formally committed to never produce cluster munitions in future.

Greece possesses cluster munitions and while it has not provided information on the quantities stockpiled, its stockpile likely includes two types of ground-delivered cluster munitions which were produced by Hellenic Defence Systems S.A. (EBO-PYRKAL), also known as EAS:[11]

  • GRM-49 155mm artillery projectile with 49 dual-purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICM) submunitions; and
  • 107mm high explosive/improved conventional munition (HE/ICM) GRM-20 mortar projectile containing 20 DPICM.

Greece also imported 203mm DPICM artillery projectiles, M26 cluster munition rockets, and Rockeye bombs from the United States (US).[12] US export records show that Greece imported 4,008 CBU-55B cluster bombs between 1970 and 1995.[13] In 2011, a Greek official informed the Monitor that Greece possesses 1,286 CBU-55B cluster bombs.[14]

Greece received the Autonomous Free Flight Dispenser System (AFDS), developed in the past by General Dynamics (US) and LFK (Germany), which disperses various explosive submunitions.[15] According to Jane’s Information Group, Greece also possesses BLG-66 Belouga cluster bombs manufactured in France and US-made CBU-71 cluster bombs.[16]



[1] Emails from Yannis Mallikourtis, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Greece to the UN in Geneva, 1 May 2012, and 14 June 2011; and Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) meeting with Eleftherios Kouvaritakis, First Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Greece to the UN in New York, New York, 10 September 2008.

[2] Letter to Mary Wareham, Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch (HRW), from Ioannis Tsaousis, Charge d’Affairs, Permanent Mission of Greece to the UN in Geneva, 8 April 2016.

[3] For details on Greece’s cluster munition policy and practice through early 2009, see HRW and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 207–208. In 2011, Wikileaks released seven United States (US) Department of State cables dated from March 2007 to November 2008 showing how the US engaged with Greece during the Oslo Process. One cable from December 2007 states, “Greece further shares USG concerns that there are provisions being considered within the Oslo Process that could have a significant impact on military cooperation between countries that adopt such requirements related to cluster munitions and those that do not.” See, “Cluster munitions: Greece shares U.S. concerns,” US Department of State cable dated 12 December 2007, released by Wikileaks on 20 May 2011.

[4]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 75/62, 7 December 2020.

[5] Statement of Poland (on behalf of Estonia, Finland, Greece, and Romania), UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 8 November 2018; statement of Poland (on behalf of Estonia, Finland, a Greece, and Romania), UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 31 October 2017; statement of Poland (on behalf of Estonia, Finland, Greece, and Romania), UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 31 October 2016; and statement of Poland (on behalf of Estonia, Finland, Greece, and Romania), UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 4 November 2015. Poland did not provide a statement on behalf of the same group of states at UNGA in 2019 and 2020.

[6]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 75/193, 16 December 2020.

[7] Email from Yannis Mallikourtis, Permanent Mission of Greece to the UN in Geneva, 1 May 2012.

[8] The article was prepared in cooperation with the Athens-based Institute for Security and Defense Analyses. See, “US-German ‘battle’ for Greek MLRS,” Defence Point, 19 December 2013.

[9] A UN explosive ordnance disposal team in Melhadega, Eritrea identified and destroyed a failed M20G dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunition of Greek origin in October 2004. UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea Mine Action Coordination Center, “Weekly Update,” Asmara, 4 October 2004, p. 4.

[10] Email from Yannis Mallikourtis, Permanent Mission of Greece to the UN in Geneva, 14 June 2011.

[11] The company website lists both weapons as produced “in the past.” Hellenic Defence Systems S.A., “Our Products,” accessed 20 July 2013. The Greek Powder and Cartridge Company (Pyrkal) was merged into EAS in 2004.

[12] The US transferred 50,000 M509 203mm projectiles to Greece in 1996 under the Excess Defense Article program. Each M509A1 contains 180 M42/M46 DPICM. US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, “Excess Defense Articles,” undated. For the M26, see US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) news release, “Greece – M26A2 MLRS Extended Range Rocket Pods,” Transmittal No. 06–47, 29 September 2006. For Rockeye bombs, see Colin King, ed., Jane’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal 2007–2008, CD-edition, 15 January 2008 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2008).

[13] US Defense Security Co-operation Agency (DSCA), Department of Defense, “Cluster Bomb Exports under FMS, FY1970–Y1995,” 15 November 1995, obtained by HRW in a Freedom of Information Act request, 28 November 1995.

[14] Email from Yannis Mallikourtis, Permanent Mission of Greece to the UN in Geneva, 14 June 2011.

[15] Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2004), pp. 365–367.

[16] Ibid., p. 839.


Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 07 October 2019

Policy

The Hellenic Republic (Greece) signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997 and ratified on 25 September 2003, becoming a State Party on 1 March 2004.

Ratification makes the Mine Ban Treaty part of Greek domestic law.[1] Greece has specified the parts of its existing criminal codes that provide penal sanctions for any violations of the treaty.[2]

Greece has been in violation of the Mine Ban Treaty since March 2008 when it missed its stockpile destruction deadline (see section on Stockpiling and Destruction below).

Greece regularly submits annual Article 7 transparency reports.

Greece attended the Seventeenth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in November 2018 and the intersessional meetings in May 2019. At both meetings, Greece provided an update on its stockpile destruction progress.[3] Greece has previously attended most Meetings of States Parties and intersessional meetings, in addition to the Third Review Conference in Maputo in June 2014.

Greece is not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Greece is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its Amended Protocol II on landmines and has submitted its annual report for calendar year 2018 in early 2019. Greece is not party to CCW Protocol V on explosive remnants of war.

Production and trade

Greece is a former producer of antipersonnel mines; it also formerly imported them from Germany and the United States (US).[4] Prior to becoming a State Party, Greece had a moratorium on the production and export of antipersonnel mines for a number of years.[5]

Stockpiling and destruction

Greece failed to meet its 1 March 2008 Article 4 deadline for destruction of its stockpiled antipersonnel mines and remains in violation of the treaty. In its report submitted in 2019, Greece reported that it had 396,452 antipersonnel mines remaining in stockpiles. It reported the destruction of 244,309 antipersonnel mines in 2018 (502 M2; 492 DM31; 242,729 M16; and 586 M14 mines).[6]

On 1 October 2014, an explosion at the Midzhur munitions destruction plant owned by VIDEX in Gorni Lom, Bulgaria killed 15 workers and halted Greece’s stockpile destruction program.[7] The Bulgarian President, Rosen Plevneliev, attributed the Midzhur plant blast to “arrogant non-observance” of rules of procedure.[8] In a statement released on 31 December 2014, Greece stated that “it was reviewing all possible options in an effort to adhere to its initial intention to complete the destruction of all stockpiled anti-personnel mines by the end of 2015.”[9]

At the Seventeenth Meeting of States Parties in November 2018, Greece reported that the transfer of antipersonnel mines from Bulgarian storage facilities was complete.[10] At the intersessional meetings in May 2019, Greece reported that its stockpile had been reduced to 343,413 antipersonnel mines and that at least 33,526 additional mines were anticipated to be destroyed in the near future.[11] The ICBL has repeatedly expressed concern at Greece’s failure to begin the destruction process early enough to meet its destruction deadline. It has urged Greece to set a firm deadline for completion, to devote the necessary resources for destruction, and to report progress to States Parties on a monthly basis.[12]

Mines retained for research and training

In 2019, Greece declared a total of 5,599 mines retained “for training soldiers in mine detection and clearance and canine detection.” This consists of M14 (3,008), DM31 (1,282), M2 (1,001), and M16 (308) mines.[13] It initially retained a stockpile of 7,224 antipersonnel mines.



[1] Interview with Lt.-Col. Vassilis Makris, Defence Policy Directorate, International Law Section, Hellenic Defence General Staff, Ministry of Defence, Athens, 13 May 2005.

[2] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form A, April 2006. The information has been repeated in all subsequent Article 7 reports. See also, Landmine Monitor Report 2006, p. 446.

[3] Statement of Greece, Mine Ban Treaty Seventeenth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 29 November 2018; and statement of Greece, Mine Ban Treaty Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 24 May 2019.

[4] Greece has reported, “Upon ratification of the Ottawa Convention, there were not any anti-personnel mine production facilities whatsoever in Greece.” Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form E, April 2012.

[5] On 19 February 2010, a Greek news agency reported that US forces seized a ship heading for East Africa carrying a cargo of weapons, including a “large quantity of mines” with serial numbers indicating they were US-manufactured mines purchased by the Greek army, allegedly sent to Bulgaria for destruction. Both Bulgaria and Greece conducted investigations into the incident and concluded that the allegation was unfounded.

[7] Bulgaria stated that 6,986 mines were being destroyed at the Midzhur plant in Gorni Lom at the time of the explosion. A total of 130 of the mines had been recovered, but were not going to be transferred due to their damaged condition. The remaining 6,856 mines were either destroyed during the initial plant explosion or are still scattered throughout the processing facility, and these mines will be destroyed upon discovery according to Bulgaria’s statement. Statement of Bulgaria, Mine Ban Treaty Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, June 2015.

[8] Stoyan Nenov and Tsvetelia Tsolova, “Blasts kill 15 people at Bulgaria explosives plant,” Reuters, 2 October 2015.

[9] Preliminary Observations of the President of the Fourteenth Meeting of States Parties, Mine Ban Treaty Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 23 June 2015.

[10] Statement of Greece, Mine Ban Treaty Seventeenth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 29 November 2018.

[11] Statement of Greece, Mine Ban Treaty Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 24 May 2019.

[12] Statement of ICBL, Mine Ban Treaty Eleventh Meeting of States Parties, Phnom Penh, 1 December 2011; statement of ICBL, Mine Ban Treaty Tenth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 29 November 2010; and statement of ICBL, Mine Ban Treaty Second Review Conference, Cartagena, 2 December 2009.


Mine Action

Last updated: 29 August 2014

Contamination and Impact

Mines

In December 2009 at the Second Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty, the Hellenic Republic (Greece) announced it was in full compliance with Article 5 of the treaty.[1] However, there was one marked minefield on the island of Rhodes, the largest of Greece’s islands and a popular tourist destination. In response to concerns raised by the ICBL, Greece reported in June 2011 that the Greek Army cleared the area in 1987 but failed to locate all of the mines, and that since then had conducted quality assurance (QA) seven times through to May 2011.[2] QA was conducted at a deeper depth and larger perimeter each time. In May 2011, QA was said to have been conducted at 40cm depth. In September 2011, it was planned to conduct QA at a depth of 1.2 meters. Since 1987, no mines have been found.[3] After several inquiries by the Monitor and concerns raised by the ICBL, Greece informed the Monitor in May 2012 that it would undertake full clearance of the area before the end of the year.[4] In 2012, Greece began verification operations on Rhodes, covering an area much larger than the one remaining mined area. The Greek Army completed verification on 8 March 2013 and declared the area mine-free; on 21 March 2013 the land was handed over to the municipal authorities in Rhodes.[5]

Explosive remnants of war

Contamination elsewhere in the country consists of booby-traps and explosive remnants of war (ERW) remaining from World War II and from the 1946–1949 civil conflict in the regions of Western Macedonia and Epirus in the north of the country. The contaminated area is not clearly defined, although the amount of ERW is said to be large.[6] A survey in Western Macedonia in 2007 found a total of 786 suspected hazardous areas (SHAs), including some mined areas, of which 13 SHAs covering 310,000m2 were subsequently cleared, leaving 773 areas to be addressed.[7]

In 2011, Greece reported that ERW clearance operations were underway in the Western Macedonia and Epirus regions and that 525,155m2 had been cleared.[8]

In an interview with the Monitor, Lieutenant-Colonel Demetrios Tavris from the Ministry of National Defence said it was impossible to determine the extent of the ERW problem in other parts of Greece as there could always be some residual contamination.[9]

Mine Action Program

There is no national mine action authority or mine action center in Greece. All clearance operations and their management are the responsibility of the Ministry of National Defence.[10]

Article 5 Compliance

Under Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty, Greece is required to destroy all antipersonnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control as soon as possible, but not later than 1 March 2014.

At the Second Review Conference, Greece claimed that it had fulfilled its Article 5 obligations in 2009, five years before its deadline, and that there were no known mined areas under Greece’s jurisdiction or control containing antipersonnel mines. In the event that previous unknown mined areas were discovered, Greece would report to States Parties under the reporting mechanisms of the treaty.[11]

However, the marked minefield on the island of Rhodes suggested that Greece’s declaration of compliance was premature. In March 2013, Greece completed verification operations in Rhodes and declared the island and all of Greece mine-free.[12]

Questions remain about the completion of clearance of mined areas dating back to the civil war elsewhere in the country. Greece’s most recent Article 13 report under the Convention on Conventional Weapons Amended Protocol II refers to areas contaminated by mines in Western Macedonia and Epirus, although it notes that there are “no properly defined minefields in this area and no maps.”[13] Greece has reported as “void” the section covering “areas suspected to contain mines” in its annual Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 reports.[14]

 



[1] Statement of Greece, Second Review Conference, Cartagena, 1 December 2009.

[2] Statement of Greece, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Geneva, 24 June 2011.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Meeting with representatives of the Greek Ministry of National Defence and Foreign Affairs, Athens, 10 May 2012.

[5] Statement of Greece, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Geneva, 29 May 2013; and letter from Panayotis Stournaras, Ambassador, Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the ICBL, 18 July 2013.

[7] Interview with Panos Vlachinos, P.A.S.S. Defence, Athens, 18 June 2008.

[9] Interview with Stelios Zahariou, D1 Directorate for the UN and International Organisations and Conferences, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Lt.-Col. Demetrios Tavris, Staff Officer, Division of Defense Policy, Department of International Organizations, Ministry of National Defence, Athens, 16 April 2010.

[10] Interview with Thanos Kotsionis, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of the Hellenic Republic to the UN in Geneva, Geneva, 26 April 2007.

[11] Statement of Greece, Second Review Conference, Cartagena, 1 December 2009.

[12] Statement of Greece, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Geneva, 29 May 2013.

[14] See, for example, Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form C, 30 April 2009; and Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form D, April 2014.


Support for Mine Action

New information will be added soon.


Casualties

Last updated: 21 October 2018

The last ERW casualty in the Hellenic Republic (Greece) was identified in 2012. In January of that year, local media reported that an Albanian man was injured by an explosive item said to be an antipersonnel mine in the forest along the Ioannina-Kakkavos national road.[1] Casualties identified before 2012 include four mine casualties in 2008.[2]

Between 1999 and 2016, the Monitor identified at least 109 landmine casualties (66 killed; 43 injured); the majority of whom were non-Greek citizens. Between 1954 and 2007, at least 31 deminers were killed. From 1954 to 2002, 17 military personnel were injured in clearance operations.[3] The vast majority of casualties were migrants and asylum seekers entering Greece through border areas. The head of the clearance battalion reported that some 187 non-Greek citizens had been injured between 1995 and early 2007.[4]



[1]24χρονος ακρωτηριάστηκε από νάρκη!” (“24-year old injured by a mine!”), Proto Thema (weekly newspaper), 29 January 2012.

[2] ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 2009: Toward a Mine-Free World (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada: October 2009).

[3] ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 2008: Toward a Mine-Free World (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada: October 2008); and ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 2006: Toward a Mine-Free World (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada: October 2006).

[4] Based on a declaration made by the head of the Minefield Clearance Battalion, TENX. See ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 2008: Toward a Mine-Free World (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada: October 2008).


Victim Assistance

Last updated: 13 July 2017

There is no report on the total number of mine/explosive remnant of war (ERW) survivors living in the Hellenic Republic (Greece).

There were no economic reintegration opportunities or psychological support resources for survivors who were injured in minefields in Greece. The main coordination body regarding disability policy at the national level is the Ministry of Labour, Social Insurance, and Social Solidarity, which is in charge of social protection, policy for assessment of disability, and pensions. The Ministry of Health regulates policy related to healthcare as well as the organization of health and social care establishments.[1] Most landmine survivors injured in Greece were asylum seekers or illegal immigrants who face precarious situations and could not always access services.[2] A number of NGOs operate in Greece, many of which provide services on the ground for persons with disabilities among refugees and asylum seekers, including mine/ERW survivors.[3]

Greece ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on 30 May 2012.



[1] Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED), “Greece country profile,” undated.

[2] Niki Kitsantonis, “Land mines and a perilous crossing into Greece,” New York Times, 6 January 2009.