New achievement of the mondem programme for safer Montenegro

In the framework of the Programme for Demilitarization in Montenegro (MONDEM), representatives of the Ministry of Defence of Montenegro, the OSCE Mission to Montenegro and the UNDP Montenegro officially opened the reconstructed “Taraš” ammunition storage site in Danilovgrad, Montenegro. The aim of the €1.23 million infrastructure upgrade of this ammunition depot was to bring it in line with internationally accepted security standards. The project was financed by the Government of the Netherlands (€700,000), the Government of Montenegro (€200,000), the European Union (€200,000 – through the SEESAC) and the OSCE (€130,000).

Mr. Boro Vučinić, Minister of Defence of Montenegro stated at the opening of “Taraš” that the Government of Montenegro assessed in 2006 that large quantities of surplus ammunition (12,136 tons at that time) presented the highest internal security risk for the country. “With generous support from our partners in the MONDEM Programme, Montenegro succeeded in destroying a great part of this surplus ammunition. The capital project of the reconstruction of ‘Taraš’ that was finalized in less than one year, provided Montenegro with a very important storage site that ensures increased safety for the citizens who live in its proximity.” Minister Vučinić also emphasized that 4,498 tons of surplus ammunition remains in Montenegro and said: “We are fully aware of the threat and we will continue working on its destruction, in order to remove the risk and increase the safety of our citizens. I am sure that we will have the support from our partners, who have supported in this endeavour from the beginning – UNDP and OSCE, and a number of our donors.”

Mr. Sarunas Adomavicius, Head of the OSCE Mission to Montenegro said: “Montenegro, through the efforts invested in the implementation of the MONDEM programme, contributes to increasing security in the region. However, the challenges that Montenegro is facing in this regard should not be underestimated. An important question that still remains to be dealt with is safe destruction of the remaining surplus ammunition. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to ensure political will, resources, coordination among partners and support from the international community. Our next goal in the MONDEM programme is to reconstruct the biggest ammunition storage site in Montenegro – ‘Brezovik’. From my visit to this site three days ago, I realized that the conditions in this object are not safe and that they require urgent action of the partners in the programme.”

Mr. Alexander Avanessov, UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative to Montenegro said that thanks to the joint efforts of the OSCE, UNDP and the Government of Montenegro, as well as the donors, Montenegro now has a safe ammunition depot of more than 1000 tons capacity, compliant with the international standards. Mr. Avanessov also emphasized that “MONDEM promotes Montenegro as sensible member of the EU accession countries; it works on reduction of potential risks to the local communities living near ammunition depots; ensures that military weapons, through their destruction, will never fall in the hands of criminals and terrorists; promotes Montenegro as safe tourist destination; contributes to the environmental protection through destruction of hazardous chemical waste; promotes sustainable development through a safe, efficient, cost-effective and environmentally benign destruction of conventional ammunition and the recycling of heavy weapons systems into commercial materials.”

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The ammunition storage site “Taraš” has been reconstructed in the framework of the joint capacity development programme of the Government of Montenegro, UNDP and OSCE for SALW (Conventional Ammunition) Demilitarization and Safe Storage for Montenegro, also known as the MONDEM programme. The project design for the upgrade of another ammunition depot (Brezovik) is being prepared, and currently the focus is on mobilization of the resources for its implementation.

The achievements of the MONDEM programme, which include the reconstruction of the ammunition storage site “Taraš”, contribute to a safer and more secure Montenegro. Two out of four components of the MONDEM programme have been successfully completed. Firstly, the Destruction and Recycling of Heavy Weapon Systems component, where 60 T-55 tanks and 100 field artillery pieces were dismantled and melted for scrap, which conveyed a powerful message that Montenegro was poised for a new era of peace. Secondly, the Disposal of Toxic Hazardous Substances component saw safe disposal of more than 115 tons of the toxic rocket fuel component mélange oxidizer from the Bay of Kotor, thus removing a serious threat to public health and the environment and enabling development perspectives for the scenic bay. The two remaining components, Ammunition Demilitarization and Stockpile Management, are underway. Under the Ammunition Demilitarization component, some 480 tons of conventional ammunition have been successfully demilitarized within the first phase, and the second phase is now focused on unstable and obsolete ammunition.

The implementation of MONDEM was never envisaged to be an easy task. The entire programme is worth some 8 million US dollars. So far, over 4,5 million (over 55% of the entire amount) was mobilized. MONDEM proved to be a good model, in fact an example of a successful cooperation between the government and international partners. That model will be used not only to address the remaining challenges of reconstruction of the Brezovik ammunition depot and destruction of the remaining ammunition, but should also serve as a layout for future partnerships in this part of the world, in any field of sustainable development.