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At disarmament forum, Turkey and Greece announce plans to join landmine ban

At disarmament forum, Turkey and Greece announce plans to join landmine ban

Turkey and Greece have jointly decided to initiate procedures for ratifying an international convention banning landmines, a representative of Ankara today told the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament as it opened the second part of its annual session.

Murat Sungar of Turkey, speaking also on behalf of Greece, said that both countries would concurrently start the process of becoming parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and Their Destruction, also known as the Ottawa treaty. He added that a total ban on landmines was an important confidence-building measure that would contribute to security and stability in the region.

The decision was welcomed by the representative of Belgium, Jean Lint, who hailed its importance in the context of good relations between Turkey and Greece. He also encouraged all States that have not yet ratified the treaty to do so without delay.

Also addressing the meeting, the current President of the Conference, Hu Xiaodi of China, said that he had recently held consultations with 30 delegations to break the deadlock which had prevented the body from adopting its work programme for several years in succession. He said there was widespread dissatisfaction with the present state of affairs, with many delegates expressing hope that substantive work could begin soon.

In order to surmount the stalemate, some States had advocated intensive consultations on the main contentious issues, while others had suggested that more attention should be devoted to other courses of action, the President said.

Established in 1979, the Conference on Disarmament is the single multilateral negotiating forum for disarmament agreements. The body, which works strictly on the basis of consensus on matters that touch the national security interests of States, has a limited membership of 66 and a unique relationship with the United Nations General Assembly, whose recommendations its takes into account. The Conference, however, defines its own rules and develops its own agenda.