ISTANBUL — Efforts to clear mines have been launched on Mount Ararat in Turkey’s eastern province of Igdir as part of a project financed by the European Union and Turkey in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Hurriyet Daily News reports.

According to the source, the project aims to clear Turkey’s eastern border of mines to increase Ankara’s ability to control the border and provide socio-economic development. As part of the project, mines along the borders with Armenia, Iran and Azerbaijan will be cleared within two years.

South African firm DENEL-MECHEM will conduct the mine-clearing works as part of the project. Company officials said a total of 15 square kilometers will be cleared of 222,000 mines in 511 areas near the Armenian, Azerbaijani and Iranian borders within two years.

Speaking at the ceremony, the head of the EU delegation in Ankara, Ambassador Christian Berger, said hundreds of innocent people, including children, die each year after stepping on mines. Berger also said land mines produce serious societal and financial effects and prevent development, as well as killing individuals.

“This project aims to reduce these effects by taking plenty of precautions including clearing the area of mines and helping the victims. The support given by the EU to mine activities is a part of our support for border management. The mines were planted between 1984 and 1999 for border security. Turkey, the EU and the U.N. are jointly working to clear the area of mines, as well as creating a modern, humanitarian and strong border security,” Berger said on April 4.

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