27 July 2007Montenegro, the United Nations’ youngest member, has launched a new demilitarization initiative, ultimately aiming to slash nearly 12 thousand tons of heavy weaponry to 2,000 tonnes and cut the number of ammunition depots from 10 to three under a project co-sponsored by the world body. As a first step, battle tanks used by the Yugoslav National Army (JNA) in the Balkan wars in Bosnia and Croatia in the early 1990s are being melted down for scrap under the Montenegro Demilitarization Programme (MONDEM), a joint project of the Montenegrin Ministry of Defence, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP). “The Government of Montenegro is to be applauded for this gesture of peace and reconciliation destroying weaponry of the former JNA,” UN Interagency Focal Point Garret Tankosic Kelly said. “Congratulations also to the Ministry of Defence for recognizing that these tanks can better serve Montenegro’s development by being melted down and recycled for new and more peaceful purposes.”Supported by the OSCE and UNDP, similar projects were realized in Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Georgia, Moldova, Tajikistan and Ukraine. Lessons learned from these processes will be integrated into the MONDEM programme with the technical support of the South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons. “By ridding itself of these weapons, Montenegro is taking a crucial step in the reform of its defence forces into an efficient, modern and professional armed force to defend the country as part of a collective defence system,” Montenegrin Defence Minister Boro Vucinic said.The small Balkan country became the UN’s 192nd member last year after voting to become independent from Serbia in what was the last unified remnant of Yugoslavia, the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro.