The U. S. Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) will host a workshop to facilitate the development of a regional approach to the reduction of conventional weapons and munitions stockpiles in South East Europe, May 6-7 in Zagreb, Croatia. We extend our thanks to Croatia for allowing the workshop to take place in Zagreb.
The workshop, which will launch the South East Europe Regional Approach to Stockpile Reduction (RASR), is an open-ended coordination process that will include defense officials from seven South East European countries, representatives of the U.S. Departments of State and Defense and the U.S. European Command, and technical and policy experts from numerous international organizations. They will discuss the threats posed by hazardous and loosely secured stockpiles, the humanitarian and economic impact of explosions, best practices in stockpile security and management, and country plans for stockpile reduction.
Aging, excess, and loosely secured stockpiles of conventional weapons and munitions are a major issue in South East Europe. These stockpiles pose threats of illicit proliferation, accidental explosion, widespread destruction, extensive human casualties, and environmental damage. Since 2006, munitions stockpile explosions in Albania, Bulgaria, and Serbia have caused significant damage, and, in some cases, large numbers of casualties as well as displacing civilians from their homes and communities.
The workshop will give Defense Ministry and General Staff officials involved in stockpile management an opportunity to build relationships with their counterparts in the region, share lessons learned, develop regional plans for stockpile reduction, and learn about available technical and financial assistance.
The United States is committed to helping countries reduce and destroy at-risk stockpiles of conventional weapons and munitions, recover from disastrous explosions, and improve stockpile safety and security. PM/WRA provided support for clean-up efforts after the catastrophic explosions of munitions depots in Albania and Bulgaria. In late 2008 PM/WRA funded the creation of a humanitarian Quick Reaction Force to respond to urgent humanitarian operations that require the removal or mitigation of explosive hazards to protect civilian populations, which deployed to Bulgaria in early 2009.
To learn more about the U.S. Department of State's efforts to reduce and destroy excess, unstable, and loosely secured conventional weapons and munitions around the world, visit the PM/WRA website at www.state.gov/t/pm/wra.