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CLEARANCE OF MINES AND UNEXPLODED ORDNANCES IN AZERBAIJAN JEYRANCHEL PROJECT OPENING CEREMONY

On 5 July, 2012 Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action organized an official opening ceremony of the joint ANAMA-NATO/NSPA Partnership for Peace Trust Fund Project “Clearance of mines and unexploded ordinances in Jeyranchel”. This momentous occasion took place in Park Inn Hotel on July 5, 2012 with the participation of the Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mr. Abid Sharifov, NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, Mr. James Apparthurai, Head of the Azerbaijani Mission to NATO, Mr. Khazar Ibrahim, Ambassadors of Diplomatic Missions to Azerbaijan and representatives from NATO and NATO Support Agency, as well as high governmental officials from Afghanistan and Director of the Tajikistan Mine Action Centers.

From 1955-1991, the former Soviet Army military testing and training field located in Jeyranchel along the Azerbaijani-Georgian border, was in an active use. 

Currently, the area of 64 sq.km is contaminated with vast quantities of mines and unexploded ordinances (UXO).

The first phase of the ANAMA-NATO/NSPA Partnership for Peace Trust Fund Project “Jeyranchel Clearance Project” on the clearance of 19 sq.km was officially confirmed by NATO on 4th of October 2011. The United States of America has taken the role of the Lead Nation for this project. The Government of Azerbaijan being deeply concerned with this situation and considering the importance of this project for the country contributed 50% of the total budget of the project. The United States and United Kingdom have also made contributions to the Project.
Mr. Ismayilov made an opening speech about the scope of the UXO problem and emphasized high significance of the project launched within NATO PfP Trust Fund Program. He has also thanked all donor countries whose support have made possible to overcome all difficulties and allowed ANAMA to successfully complete “Clearance of Unexploded Ordinances in Saloglu” project.

Mr. Abid Sharifov, Deputy Prime Minister of Republic of Azerbaijan, the Coordinator of the Project on behalf of the Government of Azerbaijan, has emphasized that since 2000 19,000 He of contaminated territories have been cleared and thousands of mines/UXOs were found and destroyed. As a result of the mine and UXO clearance operations conducted by ANAMA, inaccessible lands are becoming safe from explosive hazard and are being handed over to locals. ANAMA conducts operations in accordance with the Social-Economic Development Program of the Regions of Azerbaijan approved by Decree of the President of Azerbaijan. At the same time, Azerbaijan Government gives a great importance to the collaboration with NATO within the Partnership for Peace Program and ready to support the continuation of such projects in future.

Mr. Radu Gorincioi, II Secretary, NATO Contact Point Embassy diplomat, Embassy of Romania to the Republic of Azerbaijan in his speech underlined that the area requires a high level of demining expertise. “I am confident that due to the professionalism showed by ANAMA staff and the experience got by Azerbaijani personnel working in previous UXO projects, the former Soviet military polygon from Jeyranchel will soon become a safe and friendly haven for Azerbaijani people living in this area” he noted.Mr. James Appathurai, Special Representative of NATO Secretary General in the South Caucasus and Central Asia noted: “The first NATO PfP Trust Fund Project in Azerbaijan - Saloglu Project has been implemented in a high level and this is very dangerous operations, every day the personnel in the field meet with the risk. Jeyranchel is also very important Project and I hope that this project will give positive outcomes to the development of the particularly region”.

In his turn, Mr. David Towndrow, Jeyranchel Project Manager, NATO Support Agency, mentioned that there is a real need to clear the Jeyranchel area of any mines, UXO and other hazards to allow the area to be utilized safely. ANAMA had the resources ready and waiting, and politically both the Government of Azerbaijan and NATO wished to continue their cooperation with a project with strong outputs.

Mr. Murad Rahimov, ANAMA Info Manager has delivered presentation reflecting details and background of the ANAMA-NATO/NSPA joint project - Clearance of Mines and Unexploded Ordnances in Azerbaijan. Murad has also paid attention to capabilities of ANAMA in the training field and cooperation with other countries.

At the end of the Ceremony, ANAMA Director expressed gratitude to all participants for their interest to mine action in Azerbaijan.

The guests acquainted with the training equipments organized by TSQA Division and Mine Risk Education corner set by MRE Department.