The U. S. Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) hosted the second in a series of regional workshops in Budva, Montenegro, November 3-5, as part of its continuing effort to develop a regional approach to the reduction of excess and at-risk conventional weapons and munitions stockpiles in South East Europe that pose dual threats of illicit proliferation and accidental explosion.
The South East Europe Regional Approach to Stockpile Reduction (RASR) workshops seek to encourage Defense Ministry and General Staff officials involved in stockpile management to build relationships with their counterparts and experts in the region. At this workshop, government representatives and experts from five South East European countries, the U.S. Departments of State and Defense, the U.S. European Command, and technical and policy experts from numerous international organizations developed solutions to address the priority issues identified at the May workshop in Croatia. They laid the groundwork for continued collaboration to address the aging, excess, and loosely secured stockpiles of conventional weapons and munitions in the region.
The workshops focus on sharing best practices and developing national and regional plans to ensure the effective management, physical security and reduction or demilitarization of stockpiles of excess conventional munitions while learning 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. Since 2006, munitions stockpile explosions in Albania, Bulgaria, and Serbia have caused large numbers of casualties and significant damage, displacing civilians from their homes and communities. PM/WRA provided support for clean-up efforts after these catastrophic explosions. In 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 in response to the munitions depot explosion in Chelopechne.
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. Information about the RASR Initiative and workshop materials are available on the RASR Initiative website at www.rasrinitiative.org.