A ceremony was held on Wednesday in Vukovar to mark the removal of landmines, left over from the 1991-1995 Homeland  Defence War, from Vukovar-Srijem County, and on that occasion the head of the Croatian Mine Action Centre (HCR), Drazen Jakopec, said that a total of 17,797 explosive devices had been detected and destroyed during the demining of this eastern part of Croatia.

Jakopec said that maps of mine-suspected areas had covered 107.2 square kilometres, which was 4.4% of the County's total area.

Of those 17,797 explosive devices that had been found and destroyed, 6,650 were booby traps and 11,147 anti-tank mines, he said.

A total of 819 million kuna was invested into the removal of mines in Vukovar-Srijem County, and 53% of that sum was allocated from the state budget.

There have been 116 casualties in mine blasts in the area, and of them 41 have been fatalities, the HCR head said.

Vukovar-Srijem County is the third county to be declared free of mines, after Dubrovnik-Neretva and Virovitica-Podravina counties were also completely demined.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic's envoy at this ceremony in Vukovar, Drago Prgomet of the HRID party, said that in mine-fields that were left over from the war were a peril for civilians.

"In these fields cleared of mines we want to sow the seed that will make Croatia safer, more developed and better," Prgomet said.

Later, the HRID MP said that he was pleasantly surprised by the President's decision to send him as her envoy to Vukovar and added that no petty-politicking should be imputed to that decision.

Asked by reporters how the president's decision should be interpreted in light of the fact that he had left the Croatian Democratic Union and later the Bridge party, that now constitute the government, and in light of his political disagreement with his former colleagues, Prgomet said that he had left the HDZ "for principled reasons and disagreement about the HDZ's future."

Prgomet, however, said that he would like to avoid any political comment on today's event.


(EUR 1 = HRK 7.6)

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