EU STAR – European Union project ‘Stockpile Management Technical Support and Ammunition Surplus Reduction’ commenced officially during the signing ceremony when a contract was signed by Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, Head of European Union Delegation and EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Sezin Sinanoglu, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the presence of the Minister of Defence of BiH, Marina Pendeš, and EUFOR Commander, Major General Anton Waldner.
The EU STAR project, financed by the European Union with around EUR 2.8 million, will enable destruction of 3,000 tonnes of unstable ammunition in specialised domestic and international demilitarisation plants in order to reduce the risk that too large ammunition stocks pose to human safety and security in BiH.
During the ceremony, Minister Pendeš expressed her hope that the project would yield good results, as had been the case with numerous past projects related to industrial demilitarisation, and thanked the EU, UNDP and EUFOR for their major support and cooperation.
Ambassador Wigemark highlighted the EU STAR project’s importance and its contribution to destruction and handling of unstable ammunition. “There are still around 17,000 tonnes of unsafe and unstable ammunition, and our shared goal is to reduce that quantity to under 10,000 tonnes. I am aware that the Armed Forces of BiH are wasting a lot of their resources to protect the warehouses storing unsafe ammunition across the country. This is very important work that they have been doing, not only on behalf of the people of this country, but on behalf of the entire region, including the EU. We have already helped with destruction of significant quantities of ammunition in the past few years through the EXPLODE project, and we will continue this by supporting destruction of additional 3,000 tonnes in the next two years,” Wigemark emphasized.
Sezin Sinanoglu, UNDP Resident Representative explained that the EU STAR project had two components – destruction of surplus ammunition, and transfer of knowledge, experience and technologies from foreign partners to the domestic ones. She reminded that for quite some time, the UNDP in BiH had continuously been implementing projects to destroy surplus armament and ammunition, which, even though stored away, still presented a potential threat to human lives and property.
“There is still too much armament and ammunition in BiH“, Sezin Sinanoglu pointed out, and added that inspections and controls were needed to determine exact quantities of stored ammunition and armament, so that the arsenal could be managed in the best possible way.
EUFOR Commander, Major General Anton Waldner said that EUFOR was still responsible for peace, stability and security in BiH, and confirmed that EUFOR would continue to provide technical assistance and support to all projects for destruction of unstable ammunition and surplus armament in BiH.
According to the June 2016 official data of the Ministry of Defence of BiH, Armed Forces of BiH are responsible for 17,000 tonnes of ammunition stored in 12 warehouses across the country. Mission of the EU STAR project is to reduce the risk and threat to peace, stability and development of BiH through significant reduction of unsafe/unstable ammunition stocks, as well as through full transfer of knowledge from the project to the staff in the Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces of BiH, thus contributing to the development of a sustainable system of ammunition management in BiH. EU STAR project, worth around EUR 2.8 million, is fully financed by the European Union, while it will be implemented by the United Nations Development Programme in cooperation with the Ministry of Defence of BiH and EUFOR until December 2019.