De-mining on the Croatian-Hungarian border

Land mines concealed along the Croatian-Hungarian border during the 1990s conflict in the former Yugoslavia have been removed in a de-mining project. In addition to protecting the local population, the project clears the path for numerous cross-border projects in Natura 2000 nature conservation areas and will boost sustainable tourism.

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The de-mining project cleared an area of 2.6 km<sup>2</sup> in total on both sides of the Croatian-Hungarian border. The de-mining project cleared an area of 2.6 km2 in total on both sides of the Croatian-Hungarian border.

The 24-month de-mining project was the largest in the Hungary-Croatia IPA (Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance) Cross-border Cooperation Programme 2007-2013 and received some EUR 3 million of EU funding. This project complements other investments through the programme in the areas of environment and sustainable tourism.

During the project, surveys were undertaken to locate the mines and their priority sequence for removal determined. An area of 1 km2 was cleared or otherwise declared safe on the Hungarian side of the border, while an area of 1.6 km2 was cleared on the Croatian side.

The removal of mine contamination from the border area has been a precondition for the realisation of numerous cross-border cooperation projects related to the Natura 2000 conservation area.

Clearing a previously unknown minefield

In early 2011, Hungary discovered a previously unknown minefield along its border with Croatia in Osjecko-Baranjska County, Croatia, and Baranya County, Hungary. The contaminated areas were a spill-over from the 1990s conflict in the region and, as required under the Ottawa Convention on anti-personnel mines, Hungary fenced off the suspected hazardous area in its southern border and notified the danger.

In September 2011, a Croatian-Hungarian project supported by EU funds was launched to survey and clear the hazardous mine fields. The project also involved the environmental rehabilitation of the area as anticipated by the EU’s Habitats Directive.

Opening ways for sustainable tourism and environmental protection

With the area cleared, work is proceeding to boost sustainable tourism in the area through the development of thematic cultural heritage routes and the promotion of cycling tours focused on the historical features of the region.

The preservation of the protected area in the Drava-Danube National Park can now be undertaken without any risk for people in the National Park. It is also easier to maintain the dykes and fight flooding in the border area. Land is also now available once more for agricultural use.

“The fact is that with the availability of the EU funds through IPA HU-HR we are not only removing a threat, but rather we are also laying foundations for new synergies. This will provide opportunities which will prove to be beneficial and cohesive on both sides of what used to separate us. The full impact of what we have set in motion may be beyond our current imagination.”

Mr. Miljenko Vahtarić, Acting Assistant Director of the Croatian Mine Action Centre (CROMAC)

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Rehabilitation of land mine contaminated sites in the Drava-Danube area” is EUR 3 529 393. The EU’s Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) contributed EUR 2 999 984 through the Hungary-Croatia IPA Cross-border Co-operation Programme.

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