Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 28 September 2022


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

Ratification made 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 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.

Greece regularly submits annual Article 7 transparency reports. It most recently submitted a report in May 2022, which covers calendar year 2021.

Greece attended the Nineteenth Meeting of States Parties, held virtually in November 2021, and the intersessional meetings held in June 2022. At both meetings, Greece provided an update on its stockpile destruction progress. Greece has previously attended most Meetings of States Parties and intersessional meetings, in addition to the Third Review Conference held in Maputo in June 2014 and Fourth Review Conference held in Oslo in November 2019.

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. Greece is not party to CCW Protocol V on explosive remnants of war (ERW).

Production and trade

Greece is a former producer of antipersonnel landmines, while it previously imported them from Germany and the United States (US).[3] Prior to becoming a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty, Greece had a moratorium in place on the production and export of antipersonnel mines for several years.[4]

Stockpiling and destruction

Before Greece began stockpile destruction efforts, it reported possessing a stockpile of 1,568,167 antipersonnel mines, composed of 792,780 DM31 mines, 568,327 M16 mines, 204,565 M2 mines, and 2,495 M14 mines.[5] Greece had previously reported a pre-destruction stockpile totaling 1,566,532 antipersonnel mines, composed of these four types as well as 504 Area Denial Artillery Munition (ADAM) 155mm artillery projectiles, each containing 36 antipersonnel mines. Counting the ADAM mines, the revised pre-destruction stockpile total was 1,586,311.[6]

Greece failed to meet its Article 4 deadline for stockpile destruction of 1 March 2008, and remains in violation of the Mine Ban Treaty. In its Article 7 transparency report for calendar year 2021, Greece reported that it had 343,413 antipersonnel mines remaining in stockpile. Greece reported that the last physical destruction of stocks occurred in 2019.[7]

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.[8] The Bulgarian president, Rosen Plevneliev, attributed the blast to “arrogant non-observance” of rules of procedure.[9] In a statement issued 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.”[10] At the Seventeenth Meeting of States Parties in November 2018, Greece reported that the transfer of antipersonnel mines from Bulgarian storage back to Greece was complete.[11]

Further barriers to the completion of Greece’s stockpile destruction obligations arose in a “legal dispute” with Hellenic Defence Systems. In a November 2020 statement, Greece reiterated its previous explanation for the dispute, stating that Hellenic Defence Systems had halted the destruction process at their facilities due to environmental compliance issues.[12]

In a June 2022 statement, Greece reported that these legal concerns had been overcome, and that “the draft contract between HDS [Hellenic Defence Systems] and their new subcontractor, has already been submitted to the Court of Auditors for a pre-contractual review and assessment.” Following the approval of this contract, Greece stated that the Ministry of Defence would “examine the proposal of the HDS with the highest priority in order to conclude the necessary internal procedures for its evaluation and set the destruction process back on track as soon as possible.”[13]

ICBL has repeatedly expressed concern at Greece’s failure to begin the destruction process early enough to meet its Article 4 stockpile destruction deadline. ICBL has urged Greece to set a firm deadline for completion, to devote the necessary resources for stockpile destruction, and to report progress to States Parties on a monthly basis.[14]

Mines retained for research and training

In 2021, Greece declared a total of 5,547 mines retained “for training soldiers in mine detection and clearance and canine detection.” This consists of M14 (2,993), DM31 (1,260), M2 (994), and M16 (300) landmines. According to the total number of mines reported to have been retained, 23 mines were destroyed or consumed by Greece during calendar year 2021.[15] Greece had 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] Greece Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form A, April 2006. See, Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Database. The information has been repeated in all subsequent Article 7 reports. See also, ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 2006: Toward a Mine-Free World (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, July 2006).

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

[4] 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 that 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.

[5] Greece Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form B, April 2013.

[6] Previously, in its 2010 report, Greece reported a pre-destruction stockpile of 1,566,532 antipersonnel mines composed of five types: DM31 (794,400), M16 (553,359), M2 (214,374), M14 (3,895), and ADAM artillery shells (504). Each of the 504 projectiles reported by Greece contain 36 individual antipersonnel mines, making a total of 18,144 ADAM mines and providing an overall total of 1,584,172 mines. Greece Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form B, April 2010.

[7] Greece last reported the destruction of 53,039 mines in 2019 (17,419 M2; 2,244 DM31; 32,259 M16; and 1,117 M14 mines). Greece Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2019), Form G. Greece destroyed 244,309 antipersonnel mines in 2018 (502 M2; 492 DM31; 242,729 M16; and 586 M14 mines). Greece Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2018).

[8] 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. See, statement of Bulgaria, Mine Ban Treaty intersessional meetings, Geneva, June 2015.

[9] Stoyan Nenov and Tsvetelia Tsolova, “Blasts kill 15 people at Bulgaria explosives plant,” Reuters, 2 October 2014.

[10] Preliminary Observations of the President of the Fourteenth Meeting of States Parties, Mine Ban Treaty intersessional meetings, Geneva, 23 June 2015.

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

[12] Statement of Greece, Mine Ban Treaty Eighteenth Meeting of States Parties, held virtually, 19 November 2020. The full statement reads: “Hellenic Defence Systems (HDS) stopped the destruction process at their facilities in Lavrio Plant, due to environmental compliance issues. The HDS and their subcontractor took steps in an effort to resolve these issues. However, as we were recently informed by the HDS, it was not possible to ensure environmental compliance during the demilitarization process and had to consequently terminate the cooperation with their subcontractor. In this context, we would like to refrain from providing, at the present phase, a time-bound plan, since we must assess the current options under consideration during the deliberations between the competent departments of the Ministry of National Defence and the HDS, including the conduct of an international tender procedure for the destruction of the remaining APLMs [antipersonnel landmines] stockpile.”

[13] Statement of Greece on Stockpile Destruction, Mine Ban Treaty intersessional meetings, Geneva, 22 June 2022.

[14] 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.

[15] Greece Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2021), Form D.