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Turkey's Ministry of Defense has announced that there are a total of 977,922 landmines currently deployed in Turkey, while stating that they have asked for an extension of the deadline to clear the landmines set by the Ottawa Treaty.
The explanation by Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz came in response to a written motion by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu, who is also the deputy chair of his party.
The motion questioned whether it was true that the government will ask for the target date to clear the fields to be extended to 2016, despite an earlier pledge to clear the landmines by 2014, as part of the commitment taken by the government undertook as party to “The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction,” known as the Ottawa Treaty.
The Defense Ministry stated that they had indeed asked for an extension of the deadline until 2022, instead of 2016, with “Time Extension Demand Document,” during a meeting in Geneva from May 27 to 31, which was held to review the Ottawa Treaty liabilities.
Tanrıkulu’s motion also inquired as to the total number of landmines currently deployed, and whether there were any statistics of civilian casualties conducted by the government. The final question in the motion demanded an explanation as to whether social projects existed for the civilian victims of landmines.
The ministry’s answer only cited the number of landmines at 977,922, leaving Tanrıkulu’s other two questions unanswered.
The motion was originally addressed to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on May 24 in order to be answered in coordination with the Ministry of Defense, but the answers were instead provided by Defense Minister Yılmaz.
The Ottawa Treaty aims to eliminate anti-personnel landmines all around the world. The Convention entered into force on March 1, 2009 with 161 states becoming party over the negotiations of the “Ottawa Process.” Hurriyet Daily news
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