OSCE praises Albania for dismantling ammo, criticizes judiciary

14:29, March 09, 2011      

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The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on Tuesday praised Albania for its efforts to dismantle obsolete ammunition, but regretted the country's judiciary had delayed delivering justice for the 26 people killed in an explosion at a dismantling plant three years ago.

Inaugurating a project to dismantle large-caliber ammunition at a plant in Mjekes of central Albania, OSCE Ambassador to Tirana Eugen Wollfarth said the Defense Ministry will dismantle an additional 7,000 tonnes of large-caliber obsolete ammunition this year thanks to funding from Germany.

The goal of the project is to make Albania, a NATO member which aspires to join the European Union (EU), a safer country and avoid the repetition of tragedies like the one in Gerdec, an ammunition dismantling base, which claimed the lives of 26 people.

"The band saws to be inaugurated today will assist with the disposal of 75mm ammunition and other ammunition up to 152mm in size, of which there are many thousands of tonnes in surplus," Wollfarth said.

The OSCE started helping Albania about three years ago to deal with 34 tonnes of a toxic rocket fuel component known as melange, given its experience in other countries. Sweden, Finland, Greece and Denmark agreed to fund a project that was finally completed in late 2009 with the last incineration taking place in Sweden.

In April 2010, the OSCE Presence in Albania embarked upon a third project involving the packaging, shipping and incineration of 120 tonnes of another hazardous chemical that was highly flammable, toxic, corrosive and even possibly carcinogenic, Wollfarth said. The project was completed last August.

The OSCE has assisted Albania in many projects to dismantle ammunition since the explosion at Gerdec, near the capital Tirana and the main international airport, which killed 26 people.

"In stark contrast to the successful technical disposal process of ammunition, the judicial handling of the Gerdec incident has not made the same level of progress, as we all would have wished for to see," Wollfarth said.

He added that as the third anniversary of this man-made disaster approached, the Albanian public still does not see that justice is done.

"It is dragging on for too long, not only in the eyes of those directly affected. Let me take this opportunity to remind all those involved in the justice system of particular responsibilities and appeal to their consciousness to do what it takes to ensure that justice is done and is seen to be done," he said.

Source: Xinhua

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