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Table of Contents
Country Reports
ESTONIA, Landmine Monitor Report 2005

Estonia

Key developments since May 2004: Estonia acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty on 12 May 2004, and the treaty entered into force on 1 November 2004. Estonia submitted its initial Article 7 transparency measures report on 21 March 2005, which declared no antipersonnel mines in stockpile or retained for training. In 2004, a total of 1,952 items of UXO were destroyed, and to 19 September 2005 1,114 UXO were destroyed, including 82 mines. Almost 400 UXO were found on the island of Saaremaa during planned clearance operations and the construction of a ferry port in 2005.

The Republic of Estonia acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty on 12 May 2004, and the treaty entered into force for it on 1 November 2004. Estonia’s security concerns, which it previously said prevented accession, were eased when it joined NATO and the European Union in 2004.

With respect to national implementation measures, Estonia states that the “Convention is part of our national legal system...Violations of the provisions of the Convention committed by persons will be punished according to the Estonian Penal Code.”[1] Under the Strategic Goods Act, which entered into force on 5 February 2004, it is prohibited to export and transit antipersonnel mines (including related services).[2]

Estonia submitted its initial Article 7 transparency measures report on 21 March 2005, covering calendar year 2004. The report included optional Form J which detailed Estonia’s mine action contributions.

The Director of the International Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Defense led Estonia’s delegation to the First Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty in Nairobi in November-December 2004. Estonia did not make a statement in the high level segment of the Conference. Estonia also attended the intersessional meetings in Geneva in June 2005, but did not make any interventions.

In December 2004, Estonia voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution 59/84, which calls for the universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. It has voted for every annual pro-ban UNGA resolution since 1996.

Estonia acceded to the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its Amended Protocol II in April 2000. Estonia attended the Sixth Annual Conference of States Parties to the Protocol in November 2004, and submitted an annual national report as required by Article 13 of the Protocol in October 2004.

A contingent of Estonian demining personnel participates in Coalition/NATO operations in Afghanistan. Estonia has not made its views known on matters of interpretation and implementation related to Articles 1, 2 and 3, and the issues of joint military operations with non-States Parties, foreign stockpiling and transit of antipersonnel mines, antivehicle mines with sensitive fuzes or antihandling devices, and the permissible number of mines retained for training.

In its initial Article 7 report, Estonia confirmed that there are no production facilities in the country.[3] Estonia has banned export and transit of antipersonnel mines since 1999.[4] Estonia declared no stockpiles of antipersonnel mines in its Article 7 report: “Estonia does not possess APMs.”[5] It also did not declare any antipersonnel mines retained for research and training purposes.[6] However, in March 2000, a Foreign Ministry official told Landmine Monitor that Estonia possessed “less than 1,000” antipersonnel mines that it used for training.[7]

Landmine/UXO Problem and Clearance

The Estonian Rescue Board estimates that hundreds of thousands of landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) remain in Estonia. They date mainly from World War II, but also from World War I, and are found particularly in Männiku forest (approximately 15 kilometers south of the capital), in Sinimäe (an area between Kohtla-Järve and Narva in northeastern Estonia), in the Jõgeveste area (10 kilometers east of Tõrva in southern Estonia), on the Sõrve peninsula on the island of Saaremaa, and on the Pakri islands.[8 ]

According to Estonian law, the Estonian Rescue Board is responsible for all demining and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) in the country. The Rescue Board operates under the Ministry of the Interior. Following a July 2005 restructuring, it includes the Estonian Demining Center and Northern Bomb Group based in Tallinn, and three regional bomb groups (Eastern in Jõhvi, Southern in Tartu and Western in Pärnu). The new bomb groups are now staffed wholly by professional civilian deminers. The Demining Center is also responsible for mine risk education.[9]

Military EOD specialists perform clearance tasks only on military bases and ranges, and in Estonian territorial waters.[10]

Mines and UXO continue to be found during construction projects and are also cleared in planned operations. During 2004, 1,952 UXO were destroyed; from 1 January to 19 September 2005, 1,114 UXO including 82 mines were cleared and destroyed. In 2005, nearly 400 UXO were found on the island of Saaremaa during several planned demining operations and the construction of a ferry port.[11]

There were no demining accidents during 2004 and through September 2005.[12]

An Estonian military EOD specialist training school has been opened in Tapa. Part of its program is to prepare Estonian military EOD specialists for international missions.[13] During the reporting period, Rescue Board deminers and dog teams continued to serve in Afghanistan with the sixth rotation having returned on 1 July 2005. Due to restructuring and limited resources, the Rescue Board is reviewing its future participation in such missions.[14]

Mine Risk Education

A nine-minute video has been distributed to all Estonian schools by the Rescue Board, with instructions on what should be done if a suspicious item is discovered. In addition, a brief TV spot has been developed for broadcast in Estonian and Russian explaining what to do if UXO is found.[15]

Landmine/UXO Casualties and Survivor Assistance

In 2004 and the first half of 2005, there were reportedly UXO-related casualties in Estonia; however, it is not possible to differentiate between incidents caused by criminal activities and accidents.[16] Since 1999, there have been at least 77 mine/UXO casualties (12 people killed and 65 injured), including 21 UXO casualties in 2003.[17]

There are no special programs for mine/UXO survivors, who receive treatment in civilian hospitals. In response to the OSCE questionnaire, Estonia stated that it does not require assistance for survivor assistance.[18]


[1] Article 7 Report, Form A, 21 March 2005.

[2] Article 7 Report, Form A, 21 March 2005.

[3] Article 7 Report, Form E, 21 March 2005.

[4] Estonia Response to Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Questionnaire, 15 December 2003, p. 2.

[5] Article 7 Report, Form B, 21 March 2005.

[6] Article 7 Report, Form D, 21 March 2005.

[7] Interview with Malle Talvet, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 10 March 2000.

[8 ]Information confirmed by Stan Reber, Senior Specialist, Estonian Demining Center, 19 September 2005.

[9] Interview with Juri Kask, Head of North Estonia Bomb Squad, Estonian Rescue Board, Tallinn, 11 July 2005; information confirmed by Stan Reber, Senior Specialist, Estonian Demining Center, 19 September 2005.

[10] Interview with Juri Kask, Estonian Rescue Board, Tallinn, 11 July 2005; information confirmed by Stan Reber, Estonian Demining Center, 19 September 2005.

[11] Interview with Juri Kask, Estonian Rescue Board, Tallinn, 11 July 2005; information confirmed by Stan Reber, Estonian Demining Center, 19 September 2005.

[12] Information provided by Stan Reber, Estonian Demining Center, 19 September 2005.

[13] Information provided by Stan Reber, Estonian Demining Center, 19 September 2005.

[14] Interview with Juri Kask, Estonian Rescue Board, Tallinn, 11 July 2005.

[15] Interview with Juri Kask, Estonian Rescue Board, Tallinn, 11 July 2005.

[16] Interview with Juri Kask, Estonian Rescue Board, Tallinn, 11 July 2005.

[17] See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 436.

[18] Estonia’s Response to OSCE Questionnaire, 24 November 2004; see also Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 436.