Mine Action

Last updated: 29 August 2014

Contamination and Impact


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.