With EU Funds, Major Demining Projects Completed

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, February 9, 2018 – Over 5.7 million square metres of land has been cleared of unexploded mines left over from the 1991-1995 war as part of two EU-funded projects in three Croatian counties, a closing conference for the two projects was told in Zagreb on Friday.

In 2016, the European Union granted 5.16 million euro for mine removal in the part of Lika-Senj County bordering Bosnia and Herzegovina and for demining socioeconomic infrastructure in Lika-Senj, Sisak-Moslavina and Zadar Counties. Slightly over 910,000 euro was secured from the state budget. Some 4.4 million square metres of land, or 22 minefields were cleared in Lika-Senj County and 1.37 million square metres, or 23 minefields were cleared in Sisak-Moslavina County.

“With the successful completion of these projects, we are increasing safety and creating conditions for the socioeconomic recovery of these areas,” Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović said. “Since our border is at the same time the external border of the European Union, with mine clearance in Croatia we are making a direct contribution to European security, which is also our obligation in light of our aspirations to join the Schengen area,” he added.

“With the successful implementation of these projects we are closer to meeting the Schengen membership criteria. We are contributing to the greater safety of police officers responsible for border control and the prevention of illegal activities in border areas, and are making a positive impact on border cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina,”  the minister said.

The EU has granted slightly over 96 million euro for mine clearance projects in Croatia since 1998 and its aid has intensified since 2015. The pace of these projects largely depends on funding and the increase in the share of EU funding has accelerated the mine removal and made the process more effective and safer, according to Božinović.

Asked by the press if complete mine clearance was a prerequisite for Croatia’s entry into the Schengen zone, Božinović said that it was indirectly because safety and security in border areas was one of the conditions for Schengen membership.

Croatian Mine Action Centre director Zdravko Modrušan said that 407 square kilometres of land, stretching across the territories of 59 towns and municipalities in nine counties, was still contaminated with mines. He noted that for the first time since 1990 no deaths related to mine explosions were reported in 2017 and 2018.


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