KALO CHORIO, Cyprus, 12 June 2009 - A ceremony today marked the conclusion of the destruction of 324 surplus man-portable air-defence systems (MANPADS), conducted at the Kalo Chorio range with the support of the OSCE.
The disposal of these short-range surface-to-air missiles, which can be carried and fired by an individual, came after a request for OSCE support last year by Cypriot Defence Minister Costas Papacostas. Representatives of the 56 OSCE participating States were invited to observe the destruction process, which involved open detonations.
The missiles are seen as particularly attractive to terrorists due to their small size and light weight, and their potential to threaten civil aviation.
The Greek OSCE Chairmanship was represented by Greek Ambassador Vasilis Papaioannou, who noted that OSCE participating States resolved in 2003 to pay special attention to the problem of MANPADS.
"The OSCE has actively promoted the application of effective and comprehensive export controls on these weapons for many years, also assisting participating States in their management, stockpiling and disposal," he said, adding the disposal of the surplus weapons in Cyprus was an excellent example of such work.
Ilia Giorgadze of Georgia, who chairs the OSCE's Forum for Security Co-operation, welcomed the co-operation that led to the success of the project. The missiles have long been a focus of the Forum's work, with a decision in May 2004 on export controls and the creation in 2006 of a best-practice guide on stockpile management and security, he said.
"The Forum recognized that MANPADS should be given special attention and consideration in light of the potential for devastating loss of life and the potential effect on the civil aviation industry and agreed to promote the application of effective and comprehensive export controls and stockpile security for MANPADS," he said.