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58th IPRM meeting takes place in Ergneti

OSCE - Wed, 23/09/2015 - 17:15

On 23 September 2015, the 58th meeting under the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) took place in Ergneti, co-facilitated by Kęstutis Jankauskas, the Head of the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM), and Ambassador Angelo Gnaedinger, the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for the South Caucasus.

The security situation was assessed as stable, and specific incidents along the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) were discussed.

Constructive discussions were held especially regarding access to land for local farmers; it was agreed to keep this issue under review. Participants committed to increase vigilance and to intensify the exchange of relevant information in relation to wildfires on both sides of the ABL.

Participants discussed the latest information on several cases of forensic expertise being conducted; and anticipated the early exchange of relevant documentation.

In order to respond to the concerns of the local population, participants promised to provide timely additional information on military exercises.

The next IPRM meeting will take place on 29th October.

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Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 22 September 2015

OSCE - Wed, 23/09/2015 - 14:48

This report is for the media and general public

The SMM monitored the implementation of the “Package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements”. Its monitoring was restricted by the parties and security considerations*. The situation remained largely calm in Donbas with only one non-training ceasefire violation recorded by the SMM. “DPR” members at a checkpoint pointed weapons at and threatened to shoot SMM members.

The situation remained relatively calm in the Donetsk region. The SMM – positioned 1km south-east of the destroyed “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled airport (9km north-west of Donetsk) – observed one explosion.[1]

In government-controlled Krasnivka (35km north-west of Mariupol), the SMM heard approximately 20 explosions in the far distance to the east. In government-controlled Topolyne (19km north-west of Mariupol), it heard approximately ten explosions in the far distance to the west and south-west. The SMM assessed both instances to have been part of training exercises.

In government-controlled Tonenke (19km north-west of Donetsk), residents told the SMM that the area had been calm since 1 September. According to them, some internally displaced persons – including children of school-age– had returned to the village. The children, they said travel by bus to the nearest school in government-controlled Orlivka, 3km to the north.

“DPR” members at a checkpoint close to “DPR”-controlled Zaichenko (26km north-east of Mariupol) pointed weapons at and threatened to shoot SMM members*. As the SMM was leaving the scene, one of the “DPR” members fired shots into the air.

The SMM facilitated – having previously provided needs assessment and advice on secure distribution points, and arranged meetings with relevant interlocutors – and monitored the delivery of 2,012 18kg hygiene packages and 2,012 18kg food packages by the International Committee of the Red Cross to residents of “DPR”-controlled Staromykhailivka (16km north-west of Donetsk). It facilitated and monitored similar deliveries to residents of “DPR”-controlled Oleksandrivka (20km south-west of Donetsk) and government-controlled Krasnohorivka (21km west of Donetsk).

The SMM observed a peaceful protest outside the offices of Medecins Sans Frontiers in Donetsk city, at which approximately 100 men and women drew attention to what they referred to as a failure to adequately address the humanitarian needs of people in “DPR”-controlled areas.

The SMM noted a relatively calm situation in the Luhansk region, recording no ceasefire violations other than training. Positioned at various locations in “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled areas to the north and north-west of Luhansk city, the SMM heard numerous explosions, which it assessed to have been part of training exercises taking place in government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk).

In government-controlled Solidarne (145km north-west of Luhansk), the director of a factory that employs 60 of the village’s 400 inhabitants told the SMM that he feared the factory would close. He cited an unrepaired railway link servicing the factory, which he said had been damaged in shelling earlier in the conflict.

The SMM re-visited five Ukrainian Armed Forces’ heavy weapons holding areas, all of which corresponded with the respective withdrawal lines. The SMM found that a number of previously-recorded weapons were absent, namely five self-propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm) at one site, as has been the case since 24 July; and, four anti-tank guns (2A19 MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) at another site, as has been the case since 12 July.

The SMM observed the following weapons in areas that are in violation of the respective withdrawal lines: close to “DPR”-controlled Bezimenne (30km east of Mariupol), one main battle tank (MBT); and close to government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), a 100mm anti-tank gun (MT-12).

In areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM observed two anti-tank guns (100mm, Rapira) and an MBT (T-64) near "LPR"-controlled Lutuhyne (21km south-west of Luhansk). In addition, it observed eight self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika) close to "LPR"-controlled Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk) and 19 MBTs (T-64) close to "LPR"-controlled Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk), both training grounds.

At the three crossing points to Crimea – namely, Kalanchak, Chaplynka  and Chonhar (95, 90 and 162km south-east of Kherson, respectively) – the SMM observed a relatively calm situation with occasional arguments between some truck drivers and protesters (see Dally Report 22 September 2015). No cargo trucks were allowed through to Crimea. Two kilometres north of the Kalanchak crossing point, the SMM observed six to eight soldiers at a sand-bagged position. An infantry fighting vehicle with a mounted heavy-machine-gun was parked nearby.

In Mykolaiv (55km north-west of Kherson), a judge of the Mykolaiv central district court told the SMM that approximately 1,500 people – suspected of desertion from the  Ukrainian Armed Forces – are to be brought before the courts in the Mykolaiv region.

On 21 September, the secretary of the village council in Banyliv (40km west of Chernivtsi) told the SMM that the remains of two inhabitants – killed in fighting in the east in July 2014 – had been returned to their families in July 2015. He added that seven local men were currently serving with the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the east.

The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv and Kyiv.

*Restrictions on SMM monitoring, access and freedom of movement:

The SMM is restrained in fulfilling its monitoring functions by restrictions imposed by the parties and security considerations, including mine threats, and damaged infrastructure. The security situation in Donbas is fluid and unpredictable and the ceasefire does not hold everywhere. Self-imposed restrictions on movement into high-risk areas have impinged on SMM patrolling activities, particularly in some areas not controlled by the government. Members of the “LPR” continue to prevent the SMM from monitoring in some areas close to the border with the Russian Federation.

Denied access:

  • Armed “DPR” members – in addition to threatening SMM members – denied the SMM passage beyond a checkpoint near “DPR”-controlled Zaichenko (26km north-east of Mariupol).
  • On 21 September, armed “LPR” members did not allow the SMM access to an “LPR” training ground near “LPR”-controlled Uspenka (23km south-west of Luhansk), citing on-going live-fire exercises. Access was again denied the following day, with no explanation offered. While there, the SMM was also informed by an “LPR” “liaison officer” that access to the training ground in “LPR”-controlled Myrne (28km south-west of Luhansk) would be denied. No explanation was offered.


[1] For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations observed, please see the annexed table.


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OSCE supports regional seminar in Kazakhstan on water management

OSCE - Wed, 23/09/2015 - 14:09

ALMATY, Kazakhstan, 23 September 2015 – An OSCE-supported training seminar on water governance aimed at promoting regional co-operation through the exchange of knowledge and experience began today in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

The three-day event was co-organized by the OSCE Programme Office in Astana with Kazakh-German University and the Foreign Ministries of Germany and Kazakhstan. It brought together some 20 young specialists from all Central Asian countries and Afghanistan who will learn from experts from the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), about the best international practices and identify ways to incorporate them into national water management sectors in the region.

“Each of us understands that water co-operation in Central Asia goes far beyond purely technical and scientific co-operation,” said Dudar Zhakenov, Political Advisor at Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry. “This is one of the main tools in the fight against poverty and climate change, a factor of stabilization for social and economic development of our countries.”

Rati Japaridze, Economic and Environmental Officer at the OSCE Programme Office in Astana, said: “The OSCE attaches great importance to supporting young professionals in reaching their full potential so that they could generate innovative and creative solutions for addressing local, national and regional challenges”

Participants will exchange views on integrated water resources management as it relates to international law on trans-boundary water resources, as well as discuss the role of young professionals in enhancing water governance in the region, in particular through establishing the Central Asian Youth Water Parliament. They will also address the issues of climate change impact on water resources, data and information management in the regional water sector, regional agreements on water management and national legislations on water resources management.

The seminar is part of the Office’s long-standing efforts to promote regional co-operation in water resources management and is in line with the OSCE Chairmanship’s priority of fostering the increased participation of youth in decision-making processes.

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Preventive diplomacy and negotiation in neutral states in focus of OSCE seminars in Turkmenistan

OSCE - Wed, 23/09/2015 - 12:24

ASHGABAT, 23 September 2015 - Thirty young diplomats from the Foreign Ministry of Turkmenistan completed today an OSCE-organized a seminar on preventive diplomacy and negotiation in a neutral state held on 21-23 September.

Separate sessions on the same days but in the afternoon were organized for more than seventy students from the Foreign Ministry’s Institute of International Relations and the International University for Humanities and Development.

During the three-day training courses, a senior expert from the Netherlands elaborated on the definition of preventive diplomacy and its mechanisms, including early warning, early action, mediation and confidence building.

“As the OSCE is considered to be a primary instrument for conflict prevention and resolution, preventive diplomacy is an essential component of the Organization’s activities aimed at addressing potential threats to security at the early stages of their emergence,” said Ambassador Ivo Petrov, Head of the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat.

“This year, Turkmenistan is widely celebrating the 20th anniversary of its neutrality status and the OSCE Centre organized this seminar to mark this important date and emphasize the opportunities that neutral states have to help parties resolve their disputes and prevent conflicts. We believe, this seminar will contribute to enhancing professional skills of young and future diplomats and promoting the role of neutral Turkmenistan in preventive diplomacy.”

The seminar also addressed bilateral and multilateral negotiations as well as the principles and techniques for their conduct. Participants analyzed case studies and discussed the importance of taking into account cultural and linguistic aspects to achieve success in negotiations.

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OSCE Parliamentary Assembly will not send observers to Azerbaijan if ODIHR does not, says PA President

OSCE - Wed, 23/09/2015 - 11:11

COPENHAGEN, 23 September 2015 – OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Ilkka Kanerva (MP, Finland) decided last week that no OSCE PA delegation will deploy to observe the 1 November parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan, in line with an earlier decision made by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

The President announced his decision during the Assembly’s Autumn Meeting, saying on 17 September that if ODIHR would not send observers due to restrictions imposed by the Azerbaijani authorities, than neither would the Parliamentary Assembly.

Speaking at the PA’s Standing Committee meeting last week in Ulaanbaatar, President Kanerva said, “The Azerbaijan government has imposed restrictions on the work of our traditional OSCE partner, ODIHR. As a result, ODIHR has been forced to cancel their planned observation mission in Azerbaijan. I think it is only appropriate that if our very vital and close partner ODIHR cannot observe, that we also don’t observe in Azerbaijan.”

On 11 September, ODIHR Director Michael Georg Link said that restrictions on the number of observers being imposed by the Azerbaijani authorities would make credible election observation impossible in Azerbaijan. “Regretfully, we are compelled by these actions to cancel the deployment of ODIHR’s observation mission for the parliamentary elections,” said Link.

The Assembly’s decision was confirmed today by OSCE PA Secretary General Spencer Oliver. “As an OSCE participating State, Azerbaijan agreed in the 1990 Copenhagen Document to invite the OSCE to observe its elections. It is therefore regrettable that the authorities’ insistence on a restricted number of observers has undermined the effectiveness and credibility of our election observation. The President of the Assembly has announced that we will decline to send observers to these elections if ODIHR does not,” Oliver said.

Since 1993, more than 5,000 OSCE parliamentarians have observed nearly 150 elections in more than 30 countries.

For more information about the OSCE PA's election monitoring work, click here.  

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OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine to hold news briefing in Kyiv tomorrow

OSCE - Wed, 23/09/2015 - 09:53

KYIV, 23 September 2015 – The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) will hold its regular news briefing tomorrow in Kyiv.

Alexander Hug, the SMM Deputy Chief Monitor, will talk about the recent Mission’s activities and the general security situation throughout Ukraine.

Journalists are invited to attend the news briefing tomorrow, 24 September, at 13:30 (Kyiv time), at the Ukrainian Crisis Media Centre, at 2 Khreshchatyk street, Ukrainian house.

Live online streaming of the news briefing will be available at

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Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 21 September 2015

OSCE - Tue, 22/09/2015 - 15:48

The SMM monitored the implementation of the “Package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements”. Its monitoring was restricted by the parties and security considerations[1]. The situation in Donetsk and Luhansk regions remained relatively calm with no ceasefire violations recorded by the SMM. The SMM observed tensions but no incidents during the blockade of the three crossing points to Crimea.

In the Donetsk region the SMM observed an overall calm security situation. The SMM recorded no ceasefire violations at Donetsk airport and other monitored hotspot areas and noted no considerable military movement. For instance, in government-controlled Sopyne (16km east of Mariupol) the SMM spoke to a resident who indicated that the situation was calm during the previous day.

In Donetsk city the SMM noted billboards advertising the holding of the so-called “local elections” in “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled areas of Donetsk region on 18 October.

The SMM did not observe any ceasefire violations in the Luhansk region, as the overall situation remained calm. However, while in government-controlled Chabanivka (63km north-west of Luhansk) the Ukrainian Armed Forces officers at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) told the SMM that one Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier was killed and another wounded the previous day by an explosion of a booby trap that they had triggered near a government checkpoint located 2.7km east of government-controlled Novotoshkivske (52km north-west of Luhansk), some 500m north of the contact line.

The SMM was informed by “Luhansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) armed personnel near Smile (32km north-west of Luhansk) that the night before they had heard several explosions in the area of “LPR”-controlled Sokilnyky (37km north-west of Luhansk). This claim was further clarified and corroborated in a separate discussion with an “LPR” commander in Slovianoserbsk (28km north-west of Luhansk) who claimed he had heard the night before six explosions caused by mortar impacts in the vicinity of Sokilnyky.

In Novotoshkivske the SMM observed three infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs, BMP-2), which were parked along the road. While in Debaltseve (55km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM witnessed a joint tactical training involving both “DPR” and “LPR” armed groups. The SMM could see ten main battle tanks (T-64) some 200m north of the main road, and six BMPs located about 1km to the south. The SMM observed no firing of weapons.

The SMM visited a school in “LPR”-controlled Tsentralnyi (60km south-west of Luhansk), where it was approached  by the school principal, the “head” of the city “administration”, and the “deputy commander” of “LPR”-controlled Krasnyi Luch (55km south-west of Luhansk) who asked for “LPR” registration papers. The SMM was also requested to show “LPR” registration papers by the head doctor at the hospital in “LPR”-controlled Antratsyt (53km south-west of Luhansk), as a prerequisite for agreeing to meet.

In “LPR”-controlled Fashchivka (61km south-west of Luhansk) the SMM visited a coal enrichment factory, which employed about 150 people according to a Cossack commander providing security to the facility. The factory reportedly operated at low capacity, and according to the interlocutor was not going to increase production until next year due to lacking some equipment spare parts.

The SMM visited seven Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas, which corresponded with the respective withdrawal lines. At six of the areas the SMM observed that a total of 16 pieces of restricted military equipment were missing. As recorded by the SMM since 9 July 2015 a towed howitzer (2A65 Msta-B, 152-mm) was missing from one area, and two howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152-mm) were missing from the second. A third site lacked two towed howitzers (2A36 Giatsint, 152-mm) since 9 July 2015, and at a fourth area, the SMM recorded three howitzers (2A36 Giatsint, 152-mm) as absent. Three and five multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS BM-21 Grad, 122-mm) were missing from the fifth and sixth site respectively, in line with SMM observation from 12 July 2015.

The SMM also visited three “DPR”-controlled heavy weapons holding areas, and found six anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100-mm) missing at one of these sites.

Based on aerial surveillance imagery available, the SMM observed a towed artillery piece in the area of government-controlled Dmytrivka (50km north of Mariupol), which is 19km away from the contact line and inside the withdrawal area for this type of weapon. The SMM also recorded a cluster of 32 military trucks at the same location.

In Kharkiv the SMM learned from the head of the Railway Border Guard Station that there have not been attempts to illegally cross the border lately. He referred to an exceptional case three months earlier when his unit prevented the smuggling of infrared night vision scopes and telescopic sights for rifles on the train from the Russian Federation into Ukraine.

In Odessa region the SMM monitored a demonstration at the border crossing point of Kuchurgan (40km west of Odessa) on the Transdniestrian controlled segment of the Moldovan - Ukrainian border. It was organized by 25 activists carrying the flags of the civilian section of Azov volunteer battalion. Despite calls of some demonstrators to stop the passage of goods into Transdniestria they did not block the road leading to the border crossing point and only handed out leaflets with patriotic messages to the vehicle drivers heading towards the border.

At the crossing points to Crimea, in the Kherson region, the SMM observed a relatively calm situation, which was occasionally marked by verbal duels between the protesters and the truck drivers (see coverage of these events starting on 20 September in SMM Daily Report 21 September 2015). The truck drivers told the SMM in Chaplynka that they were unwilling to leave the area before being refunded the money they paid for custom declarations, which reportedly amounted to a few hundred euros per cargo. The SMM facilitated a dialogue between the drivers and a customs officer, who stated that he was going to invite the shift commander to explain the procedure for being refunded.

The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Dnepropetrovsk, Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernivtsi, Lviv and Kyiv.

*Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate:

The SMM is restrained in fulfilling its monitoring functions by restrictions imposed by the parties and security considerations, including the presence – and lack of information on the whereabouts – of mines, and damaged infrastructure. The security situation in Donbas is fluid and unpredictable and the ceasefire does not hold everywhere. Self-imposed restrictions on movement into high-risk areas have impinged on SMM patrolling activities, particularly in areas not controlled by the government. Members of the “LPR” continue to prevent the SMM from monitoring most areas close to the border with the Russian Federation.

Besides the above-mentioned general restrictions that continue, the SMM was on 21 September not subject to any specific restriction of its freedom of movement.


[1]Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate”.

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Recommendations for enhanced participation of associations in public decision-making processes launched at OSCE/ODIHR event

OSCE - Tue, 22/09/2015 - 15:02
183936 Recommendations on Enhancing the Participation of Associations in Public Decision-Making Processes

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) released a set of civil society recommendations aimed at promoting the greater involvement of associations in public decision making on 22 September 2015, during the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw.

The Recommendations on Enhancing the Participation of Associations in Public Decision-Making Processes present practical guidance on creating an environment enabling associations to participate in public decision-making processes in an effective, transparent, impartial and non-discriminatory manner.

“Creating an environment that enables associations to participate in public affairs, including policy- and law-making is mutually beneficial for both states and civil society,” said Alice Thomas, Chief of ODIHR’s Legislative Support Unit. “This, in turn, helps improve the quality of policy and legislative decisions, and ultimately ensures their proper implementation.”

Ambassador Maria Leissner, Secretary General of the Community of Democracies, said: “The voice of civil society is absolutely vital to a democracy. Every government, and parliament, needs to engage with civil society to ensure that citizens' concern are addressed and that draft legislation is scrutinized by those affected by it. The OSCE guidelines and recommendations on government dialogue with civil society are not only very useful, but also much more advanced than in any other region. However, what we need to focus on is the how. What models for civil society dialogue and influence exist today? How can we help introduce such mechanisms? And how do we take these efforts from OSCE to the global level?”

The recommendations were developed by expert participants in a Civil Society Forum organized by ODIHR on 15 and 16 April 2015 in Vienna, ahead of the OSCE Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting on Freedoms of Peaceful Assembly and Association.

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Environmental challenges in Skadar Lake area in focus at OSCE cross-border seminar for Montenegrin and Albanian journalists

OSCE - Tue, 22/09/2015 - 15:02
Iva Scepanovic

The OSCE Mission to Montenegro and OSCE Presence in Albania organized a joint seminar for Montenegrin and Albanian journalists on environmental challenges in the Shkodra/Skadar Lake area on 16-18 September 2015. The seminar started in Shkodra, Albania and continued in Virpazar, Montenegro including a visit to the nearby Aluminum Plant.

This seminar aimed at informing journalists from both countries on the major issues and ecological problems affecting the Shkodra/Skadar Lake area and the joint work of both states on addressing these problems.

In Shkodra, journalists visited the Rozafa castle, the Drin River Dam and the Waste Water Treatment Plant in Shiroka, Albania, where they spoke with experts about the environmental issues in these areas and their broader impact.

“Shared environmental challenges and shared environmental opportunities need shared approaches,” said Deputy Head of OSCE Presence in Albania, Robert Wilton, at the opening of the seminar.

In Montenegro, journalists took a boat tour of the Shkodra/Skadar Lake and conducted a study visit to the red mud basin to learn about the ecological effects of hazardous waste produced from the nearby aluminum plant.

Danilo Mrdak, from the Faculty of Sciences and Mathematics, noted the media’s contribution to sustainable development by supporting communication between local communities, economic decision-makers and environmental experts. “Investigative journalism and media interest in economy and ecology are maybe the most important preconditions for making the right decisions and increasing citizens’ participation in discussions on this topic,” Mrdak said. 

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Join Communiqué of the high-level Forum on durable solutions for displaced persons from Kosovo

OSCE - Tue, 22/09/2015 - 15:01
Edita Buçaj Mia Lausevic, OSCE Mission to Montenegro

On the occasion of the OSCE-organized and UNHCR-supported High-level Forum on Durable Solutions for Displaced Persons from Kosovo, the participating institutions, led by Minister Dalibor Jevtić (Pristina), Director Marko Đurić (Belgrade), Minister Zorica Kovačević (Podgorica) and State Secretary Enver Husejin (Skopje), confirmed strong support for continuing inter-institutional co-operation and endorsed proposals for the scope and focus of future joint work to address the needs of those displaced.

The purpose of this meeting of the High-level Forum was to review progress since the Forum’s first meeting in Skopje in November 2014, during which participants issued a Joint Communiqué affirming their commitment to regional co-operation on durable solutions for displaced persons from Kosovo and establishing two co-ordination bodies to take such work forward.

Participants noted the work of the members of the Technical Working Group and the several meetings held since the inter-institutional process was launched in Skopje. In particular, the High-level Forum participants welcomed the Technical Working Group’s efforts and preparation of the documents for the Forum’s review.

The three documents formally endorsed by the High-level Forum today included: a Concept Note on Co-ordination and Planning, including guiding principles and reference to co-ordination mechanisms; a set of Priority Areas and Measures (e.g. Property Rights, Personal Documentation, Security, Dialogue and Reintegration), which constitute an agenda for the subsequent work of the process; and a Scope of Work for the Technical Working Group co-ordination mechanism. These documents provide a practical framework, and will now guide the next steps and subsequent, operational work of the participating institutions in their efforts to support durable solutions for displaced persons from Kosovo, including both returns and integration in place of displacement.

Participants noted the challenging context of their discussions on displacement from Kosovo, underlining that the current refugee/migration crisis places significant demands on the human and financial resources needed to address displacement. Noting the importance of fully using the ‘shrinking window’ of opportunity to provide durable solutions to those displaced from Kosovo, all participating institutions expressed commitment to strong and responsive co-operation to deliver timely results in practical terms.

Participants also wish to express their gratitude to the OSCE for organizing the meetings of this process, to the UNHCR and EU for their advice and support, as well as all to participants for their valuable contributions and continuing commitment.


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OSCE, UNDP support first extended meeting of Anti-Corruption Council in Kyrgyzstan

OSCE - Tue, 22/09/2015 - 14:52

BISHKEK, 22 September 2015 – The first meeting of the Anti-Corruption Council of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic was held today in Bishkek under the chairmanship of the Kyrgyz Prime Minister Temir Sariev.

The Council aims at establishing a platform for developing mechanisms and implementing procedures and formats for social partnership between state authorities and civil society in preventing corruption.

“The Anti-Corruption Council has to become the basis for creating a national platform bringing together the efforts of government and society with a view to the ideological attack on corruption, the promotion of new values ​​in society and the development of new approaches for the elimination of existing and prevention of new forms of corruption”, the Kyrgyz Prime Minister Temir Sariev stated in his opening speech. 

Ambassador Sergey Kapinos, the Head of the OSCE Centre in Bishkek, said: “Civil society plays an important role in fighting corruption. However, the development and implementation of mechanisms of co-operation between civil society and the state are fragmented. In this sense, the Anti-Corruption Council can be an effective form of co-operation in the fight against corruption as there is an interest on both sides - the country's leadership and civil society.”

The OSCE also provided support in developing this platform for dialogue between the government and the civil society.

The Kyrgyz Prime Minister, representatives of Parliament, the Prosecutor General’s Office, and the Secretariat of the Defence Council as well as heads of state bodies, international organizations, civil society and the media attended the event.

The meeting was organized with the support of the OSCE Centre in Bishkek and with technical assistance of the UN Development Programme (UNDP). 

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OSCE parliamentarians to observe presidential election in Belarus, advance visit this week

OSCE - Tue, 22/09/2015 - 12:32

COPENHAGEN, 22 September 2015 – OSCE parliamentarians will observe the upcoming presidential election in Belarus and provide leadership for the OSCE's short-term observer mission.

OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Ivica Dacic has designated Kent Harstedt (MP, Sweden) as Special Co-ordinator to lead the short-term OSCE observer mission for the 11 October vote.

James Walsh (MP, Ireland) will serve as Head of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Delegation, which will include more than 50 MPs from 22 OSCE participating States.

“The OSCE’s assessments of previous elections in Belarus show that there is major need for improvement in fundamental areas, including the need to ensure a level playing field for all candidates. Belarus has recently been in the international news for hosting negotiations on the Ukraine crisis, but the international community will be watching this election closely – and I hope we will see concrete improvements that will enable us to report some positive news on the day after the election,” Harstedt said.

On 22-23 September Harstedt will travel to Minsk and Homel for a pre-election visit, meeting with a range of officials and stakeholders in the election process.

OSCE parliamentarians will participate in several days of briefings in Minsk before deploying to polling stations across Belarus for election day observation. They will work closely with observers from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) and in co-ordination with colleagues from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

The mission will assess the elections against democratic commitments contained in the OSCE’s 1990 Copenhagen Document.

Special Co-ordinator Harstedt serves as a Vice-President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and as Head of the Swedish Delegation to the Assembly. He was a member of the OSCE PA’s observation mission to the 2010 presidential election in Belarus and has also observed elections in Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russia, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and the United States. He also served as OSCE Special Co-ordinator for the 2014 parliamentary elections in Ukraine.

James Walsh, who will lead the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Delegation of observers, previously led the Assembly’s Election Assessment Field Visit to the 2013 parliamentary elections in Turkmenistan. He has also observed presidential or parliamentary votes in Russia, Tajikistan and the United States.

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly previously observed presidential elections in Belarus in 2001, 2006 and 2010 as well as parliamentary elections in 1995, 2004, 2008 and 2012.

Since 1993, more than 5,000 OSCE parliamentarians and staff have observed nearly 150 elections in more than 30 countries.

For more information about the OSCE PA's election monitoring work, click here.

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Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 hrs, 20 September 2015

OSCE - Mon, 21/09/2015 - 19:22

This report is for the media and general public

The SMM monitored the implementation of the “Package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements”. Its monitoring was restricted by the parties and security considerations. The situation in Donetsk region and in Luhansk region remained relatively calm and the SMM did not record ceasefire violations on 19 September, but observed six explosions and some small-arms fire on 20 September. The SMM observed tensions but no incidents during the blockade of cargo trucks at three crossing points to Crimea.

The SMM observed an overall calm situation in the Donetsk region. At the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation point at the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk railway station (8km north-west of Donetsk city centre), on 19 September, the SMM did not record any ceasefire violations. On 20 September, at the same observation point, the SMM heard a total of three undetermined explosions north-west and multiple bursts of small-arms fire north-north-east of its position.

Also on 20 September, the SMM heard three undetermined explosions and multiple bursts of small arms in government-controlled, Krasnohorivka (21km west of Donetsk) and approximately ten bursts of heavy machine-gun fire north of its position in government-controlled Sopyne (16km east of Mariupol). The SMM assessed that is was shooting training from a firing range.

On 19 September, the SMM visited Hospital 14 in the Petrovskyi district of Donetsk city to follow up on media reports and information received from Volnovakha hospital of people injured in an explosion on 17 September in government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk). According to the duty doctor, three members of one family (a man and a woman in their mid-forties and their teenage son) were admitted to the hospital on 18 September with minor wounds caused by shrapnel. A police officer at the local police station said police had received the information but had not yet been able to follow up. On 20 September, the wounded woman told the SMM in a phone conversation that the gate to their property had been booby-trapped with a defensive hand grenade which exploded and lightly wounded her husband and son.

On 19 September, the SMM visited the Humanitarian Logistic Centre located 5km south of the checkpoint in government-controlled Zaitseve (50km north of Donetsk) and noted that a mobile medical unit had been established. The medical unit is staffed by and provides medical assistance primarily to Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel but it also provides medical assistance to civilians visiting the Centre, according to its personnel.

On 20 September, the SMM visited the railway station in “DPR”-controlled Makiivka (11km north-east of Donetsk) and saw the arrival and departure board indicating that there were approximately ten arrivals and ten departures of trains daily to and from Makiivka.

In the Luhansk region, the overall situation remained calm. On 20 September at 10:10hrs the SMM heard one blast while in government-controlled Toshkivka (60km north-west of Luhansk), in the direction of a checkpoint near the government-controlled Novotoshkivske (53km north-west from Luhansk). The Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel at that checkpoint later told the SMM that they also heard a blast, possible the same one, somewhere near "Lugansk People’s Republic” (LPR")-controlled Donetskyi (50km north-west of Luhansk).

On 20 September, at 10:35hrs in government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk), the SMM observed two jet-propelled airplanes flying 10-15km south of its position. One plane was moving east to west and one plane from west to east. Due to the distance, the SMM could not determine the exact type of the airplanes.

On 19 September, in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) Ukrainian Armed Forces at the checkpoint close to the bridge told the SMM that situation was calm and the bridge remained closed. The SMM saw some 50 people (men and women of various ages), many of whom were carrying large pieces luggage, waiting to cross from Stanytsia Luhanska to the “LPR”-controlled area. A group of some 30 individuals (men and women of various ages) who were waiting to go from the “LPR”-controlled area to Stanytsia Luhanska complained about the closed bridge.

On 20 September, the SMM visited a soup kitchen in “LPR”-controlled Suchodilsk (38km south-east of Luhansk). There, the manager stated that the local “administration” of the Krasnodon (“LPR”-controlled, 43km south-east of Luhansk) district has decided to close the soup kitchen as humanitarian situation in general is improving with pensions being paid by local “administration” in Russian Roubles.

On 20 September, the SMM visited the site where a humanitarian logistic centre is expected to open in Novotoshkivske. The head of the civil-military administration said that they were aiming to open the centre before the winter.

The SMM observed weapons’ movements in areas that are in violation of respective withdrawal lines. On 19 September, the SMM saw an Ural truck towing a flat-bed with the mortar (120mm, 2S9 NONA) and a Kamaz truck towing a howitzer (122mm, 2A18 D-30) on Artemivska Street in Donetsk city, moving south-west. On 19 September in Luhansk city, the SMM saw a military-type truck transporting one main battle tank (MBT) (T-72 tank) west and between government-controlled Popasna (59km north-west of Luhansk) and government-controlled Troitske (69km west of Luhansk), the SMM saw two MBTs (T-64) moving north. On 20 September, in the area of Novotoshkivske, the SMM saw a stationary MBT (T-64).

The SMM also observed the presence and movement of weapons and military equipment outside the respective withdrawal lines. On 19 September, in the area of "LPR"-controlled Kruhlyk (31km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed 28 tanks (T64 and T72). On 19 September, in the area of government-controlled Raihorodka (34km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM saw one truck towing a heavy machine-gun and a second truck towing an anti-aircraft twin auto cannon (ZU-23-2) moving west.

On 20 September, in the area of between government-controlled Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk) and “LPR”-controlled Pervomaisk (57km west of Luhansk), the SMM saw an armored personnel carrier (BTR-60) with a mounted 30mm anti-aircraft machine gun stationary at the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint. At a training ground in the area of “LPR”-controlled Chornukhine (65km south-west of Luhansk), the SMM saw 12 MBTs (T-64) stationary in the field.

On 20 September, in Kherson region the SMM monitored blocking of three crossing points to Crimea, namely Kalanchak, Chaplynka and Chonhar organized by the Crimean Tatars' self-governing body, the Mejlis. While no trucks were allowed to pass, passenger vehicles and pedestrian traffic were allowed through in both directions at all three crossing points. The situation was occasionally tense but there were no incidents. In Kalanchak (95km south-east of Kherson) the SMM observed uniformed members of the Right Sector and members of the Sich non-governmental organisation along with Crimean Tatars. The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), regular police, Kherson volunteer police battalion and special police forces were also present. In Kalanchak, there were tensions between protesters and truck drivers after the protesters accused drivers of supporting the Russian army. Truck drivers claimed that the protesters threatened to set their trucks on fire if they did not turn back. The head of the Crimean Tatars' self-governing body, Mr. Chubarov visited the gathering and told the SMM that the blockade would continue indefinitely.

Ten kilometres north of Chaplynka crossing point (90km south-east of Kherson), the SMM observed Crimean Tatars and approximately 25 members of the Right Sector and 50 members of the Sich non-governmental organisation in camouflage clothes. Six regular police officers and 20-25 Kherson police battalion volunteers were present. A group of 20 civilians demonstrated peacefully. In Chonhar (162km south-east of Kherson) the roadblock was manned by approximately 50 members of the Right Sector, Maidan Self-Defence and Aidar volunteer battalion under the Ministry of Defence and Donbas volunteer battalion under the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Twenty members of Kherson volunteer police battalion were present. Crimean Tatar representatives blocked the road by walking in circles over the pedestrian road crossing. The SMM observed two empty trucks (with Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia license plates) being stopped by the protesters and prevented from proceeding towards the mainland. The protesters threatened to slash the trucks’ tyres if trucks do not turn back. At the end of its observation, the SMM observed several empty trucks pass the blockade towards Ukraine mainland.

On 20 September, in Chernivtsi, the SMM observed a public gathering of around 60 people (men and women, different age groups) organized by Svoboda party. They expressed dissatisfaction with rising heating costs and the political leadership. The demonstration, watched by four police officers on foot and a police patrol in a car, ended peacefully.

The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv and Kyiv.

*Restrictions to SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate:

The SMM is restrained in fulfilling its monitoring functions by restrictions imposed by the parties and security considerations, including the presence – and lack of information on the whereabouts – of mines, and damaged infrastructure. The security situation in Donbas is fluid and unpredictable and the ceasefire does not hold everywhere. Self-imposed restrictions on movement into high-risk areas have impinged on SMM patrolling activities, particularly in areas not controlled by the government. Members of the “LPR” continue to prevent the SMM from monitoring most areas close to the border with the Russian Federation.

Denied access:

  • On 18 September, the SMM was denied access to an abandoned railway facility in government-controlled Nova Kondrashivka (14km north-east of Luhansk) by an officer who identified himself as the facility commander. He said that the SMM needed authorization from his supervisor.
  • On 19 September, at a checkpoint in government-controlled Troitske, the SMM was denied access to the town. The checkpoint commander told the SMM that in accordance with instructions they received, the SMM could not continue. He did not give the source of the instructions.
  • On 19 September, in “LPR”-controlled Darino-Yermakivka (77km south of Luhansk), an armed woman introduced herself as the deputy commander of the Darino-Yermakivka “border detachment” and demanded that the SMM immediately leave the area. She warned that if the SMM attempted “unauthorized entry of the border zone” without “special access permission papers” from the "LPR” “ministry of national security” it would be “administratively detained.”

For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table.

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OSCE trains Kosovo Police in confiscating criminal assets

OSCE - Mon, 21/09/2015 - 15:17

A two-week training course on freezing, restraining, and confiscating criminal assets organized for 13 Kosovo Police officers by the OSCE Mission in Kosovo and funded by the German Foreign Office concluded in Prishtinë/Priština on 18 September 2015.

The training course focused on increasing the knowledge of participants on how to investigate money laundering activities that result in the acquisition of criminal assets in line with international standards and human rights laws. Special attention was given to writing well-justified requests based on evidence in order to freeze, restrain and confiscate criminal assets. 

“The need for a training course on this topic was identified during our meetings with Kosovo Police senior staff, so we hired two consultants from United Kingdom, both former senior money laundering investigators with vast experience in the international environment, to train the officers on practical and theoretical aspects of this process,” said John Corrigan, head of the Organized Crime Section at the OSCE Mission in Kosovo.

Participants were guided through the legal framework related to the freezing and confiscation of criminal assets. They also studied a fictional money laundering scenario in which participants gave their opinions on how the investigation should proceed in line with the current applicable law.

“It is easier to plan and conduct the investigation if investigators have the whole picture in a money laundering scenario,” said trainer Bill Durrant. “These officers now have the knowledge in how to deal legally with complex freezing, restraining and confiscation requests and get it right the first time. This will save a lot of time in future investigations.”

The OSCE Mission in Kosovo is mandated with human and community rights protection and promotion, democratization, and public safety sector development. It regularly delivers advanced and specialized training courses and mentoring for law enforcement agencies, including in this particular area of organized crime.

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Human rights have to be at the centre of policy on migration crisis, say speakers at OSCE conference in Warsaw

OSCE - Mon, 21/09/2015 - 13:16

WARSAW, 21 September 2015 – OSCE participating States have to ensure the protection of the human rights and dignity of migrants in addressing the current crisis in Europe, speakers said at the opening in Warsaw today of a two-week OSCE conference focusing on democracy and human rights.

"At a time when thousands of people are risking their lives leaving the countries in the OSCE neighbourhood affected by conflicts, we must not forget the human rights and humanitarian aspects of the migrant crisis," said Ivica Dačić, OSCE Chairperson in Office and Foreign Minister of Serbia. "Building fences, closing borders, the use of excessive force against the people who are fleeing from devastating conflicts are not in line with human rights commitments participating States of this Organization have promised to respect."

Speaking at the opening session of the OSCE’s Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Secretary General Lamberto Zannier stressed that all security discussions within the Organization, including on the crisis in and around Ukraine, have to be grounded on the commitments that participating States have made to each other.

“The crisis in and around Ukraine has opened a difficult and divisive debate about the consequences of violations of key OSCE principles and commitments, including in the human dimension,” Zannier said. “Despite these profound challenges, the OSCE has managed to hold true to its vision of comprehensive security, and we continue to support efforts to restore peace and stability, including by promoting dialogue and reconciliation.”

With many of the countries within the OSCE searching for solutions to the current migration crisis in Europe, the need for a human rights focus in these efforts was a common theme.

“Too many of those caught in this crisis have fled dangerous, horrible conditions, only to be confronted by discrimination, violations of their human rights and, in some cases, the loss of their lives,” said ODIHR Director Link. “These dangers have to be addressed directly in the search for policy solutions. Instead of pouring resources into building walls and barriers that leave human beings vulnerable, I call upon all states concerned to ensure that the human rights of all of these people in dire need are protected while managing the refugee crisis.”

“This meeting reminds us of the central meaning of the OSCE commitments in the human dimension. Many problems for the implementation of these commitments persist in the OSCE area. In addition, thousands of refugees are crossing borders and continents to escape war and terror, as well as the suppression of their basic rights and freedoms,” said Gernot Erler, Special Representative of the Federal Government for Germany’s 2016 OSCE Chairmanship. “In addressing all these challenges we should reaffirm again and again that respect for human rights is a central pillar of personal security, enduring stability and lasting peace, and act accordingly.”

Some 1,400 participants from governments and civil society will gather at the conference over the next two weeks to scrutinize participating States’ performance in meeting their commitments in areas such as freedom of expression, free media and information, freedom of movement and other fundamental freedoms, the promotion of mutual respect and understanding, the rule of law and gender equality.

“The human dimension is a fundamental component of the OSCE’s comprehensive concept of security. But this concept requires that all participating states fulfill their commitments undertaken in the field of democracy, human rights and the rule of law,” said Grzegorz Schetyna, Foreign Minister of Poland.The Polish peaceful transition proved how important efficient democratic institutions are, that freedom of speech, freedom of media and strong civil society are essential for long-term social development and political stability. “

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OSCE trains Uzbek law enforcement bodies on asset recovery and mutual legal assistance

OSCE - Mon, 21/09/2015 - 12:21

TASHKENT, 21 September 2015 – An OSCE-organized week-long training course for Uzbek law enforcement bodies on identifying and tracing illegitimate assets and the various instruments of asset forfeiture and recovery began today in Tashkent.

Experts from the Basel Institute of Governance will share international best practices with senior representatives in charge of international legal co-operation and the fight against corruption and money laundering within the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Ministry of Interior and other law enforcement bodies.

“The ability to launder ill-acquired assets outside of the jurisdiction of their country of origin is one of the major enablers of corrupt behaviours,” said Ambassador Gyorgy Szabo, Project Co-ordinator in Uzbekistan. “This is why the OSCE regards the identification and recovery of illegitimate assets, no matter where they might be hidden, as a crucial element of the fight against corruption.”

The OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Uzbekistan organized the training course jointly with the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation, the Basel Institute of Governance and the General Prosecutor’s Office of Uzbekistan.

During the course, participants will also learn about the mechanisms of international mutual legal assistance and how they can be used during anti-corruption investigations.

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Spot Report by OSCE Observer Mission: A thirty-eighth Russian convoy of 44 vehicles crossed into Ukraine and returned through Donetsk Border Crossing Point

OSCE - Thu, 17/09/2015 - 17:36

Please note that this report is for media and the general public


On 17 September 2015 at 06:56hrs (Moscow time), a Russian convoy arrived at the Donetsk Border Crossing Point (BCP). A total of 44 vehicles were checked by the Russian border guard and customs services. All the vehicles had crossed back into the Russian Federation by 14:18hrs on 17 August.


Leaving the Russian Federation

On 17 September 2015 at 06:56hrs, the Observer Mission observed the arrival of a Russian convoy at the gate of the Donetsk BCP. The Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations team led the process of the convoy movement. The convoy consisted of 37 cargo trucks and 7 support vehicles. All cargo trucks displayed the Russian Federation national flag and bore the inscription “Humanitarian help from the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Russian Federation’’.

At 06:59hrs the vehicles entered the customs control area and lined up in three lines, the tailgates and tarpaulin  of some of the cargo trucks were opened and visually checked from the outside by Russian border guards and customs officers. One service dog was present in the customs area and was used to check some of the cargo trucks from outside. Ukrainian officers – two border guards and two customs officers – were present during the check. They performed a superficial visual observation of some of the opened trucks from the outside. By 07:45hrs all vehicles had left the BCP towards Ukraine.

Returning to the Russian Federation

At 14:18hrs on 17 September, the convoy arrived and lined up in four lines at the customs area. The tailgates of the trucks were opened and Russian border guards and customs officers visually checked the returning convoy. Ukrainian officers – two border guards and two customs officers – performed a superficial visual observation of the returning convoy. One service dog was present in the customs area and was used to check some of the vehicles from outside when the convoy returned. By 14:40hrs, all 44 vehicles had returned and crossed back into the Russian Federation.



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Correction: OSCE to receive the Kaiser-Otto-Prize 2015 in Magdeburg, Germany

OSCE - Thu, 17/09/2015 - 17:20

BELGRADE, 17 September 2015 – The OSCE will receive on Saturday, 19 September 2015,  the Kaiser-Otto-Prize 2015 Award at Magdeburg Cathedral, Germany, for its work in political crisis management and conflict prevention, as well as its mediating role in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Serbia’s Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić, the former OSCE Chairperson and Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, and the incoming Chairperson, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will attend the ceremony.

Previous winners are: Richard Von Weizsäcker, former president of the Federal Republic of Germany (2005), Vaira Vike-Fraiberga, former President of Latvia (2007), Władysław Bartoszewski, former Polish Foreign Minister (2009), Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (2011) and Egon Bahr, former Federal Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany (2013).

The Foreign Ministers and Ambassador Marcel Peško, Head of the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre and representing the OSCE Secretary General, will also meet to discuss current political issues.

A news conference by the Foreign Ministers will take place on Saturday, 19 September at 13:15 at the Spiegelsaal (1st floor), office of the regional bishop – entrance: Hegelstraße 1. Accredited journalists must be present before 12:45.

The award ceremony is open to media and will take place at 14:00, at the Magdeburg Cathedral - entrance: Am Dom 1, 39104 Magdeburg (south-west side of the Cathedral).

Media wishing to attend the conference and/or the award ceremony are kindly requested to register via  Journalists must collect their accreditation in Magdeburg on 19 September at the Cloister of Magdeburg Cathedral, Am Dom 1, 39104 Magdeburg (South Western side of the Cathedral), between 11:00 and 12:30.  

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Expert meeting on online abuse of female journalists stresses need for concrete actions

OSCE - Thu, 17/09/2015 - 16:37

VIENNA, 17 September 2015 – Media experts, journalists, policymakers and government representatives gathered in Vienna today to discuss the ramifications of online abuse of female journalists. This first expert meeting on this topic, hosted by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, showed the need for concrete actions from all sides of the international community.

“Freedom of expression and free media is at stake if we do not act to protect female journalists’ digital safety and online freedom in general,” the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, said at the opening of the meeting.

At the expert meeting several female journalists testified first-hand about online abuse which they experienced, because of their work as reporters. The participants stressed the fact that online abuse must be dealt with within the existing human rights framework, but that a different approach in terms of efficient law enforcement and implementation of media policies and strategies is called for. 

Among the participants at the meeting were Arzu Geybullayeva, freelance journalist; Gavin Rees, Director with Dart Centre Europe; Caroline Criado-Perez, Freelance Journalist; Maja Fjaestad, State Secretary to the Minister for Strategic Development and Nordic Cooperation Government of Sweden; and Becky Gardiner, Senior Lecturer in Journalism, Goldsmiths University.

During the meeting attendees put forward suggestions and proposals on what could and should be done to deal with the increasing number of digital threats targeting female journalists. Based on the discussions at the meeting, the Representative will issue her recommendations on how to counter online abuse of female journalists.

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OSCE presents report on the student perspective of education reforms in Armenia

OSCE - Thu, 17/09/2015 - 16:03

YEREVAN, 17 September 2015 – The findings and recommendations of an OSCE-supported survey exploring the awareness and attitude of students towards the educational reforms being implemented in Armenia were presented today in Yerevan. The so-called Bologna reforms are aimed at bringing quality of higher education system to the level of compatibility with the international standards.

More than 1723 students from 37 state, private and inter-governmental higher education institutions across the country took part in interviews conducted during the period of October 2014–April 2015.

The report finds that students see the level of implementation of the education reforms, known as the Bologna reforms, as sufficient. Fifty-seven percent of students consider that in-depth and essential changes were introduced in the higher education system. However, a great number of students could not clearly explain what the Bologna reforms entail and identify them only with some of its elements such as new grading system, higher education quality assurance or student-centered learning.

“The right to education is a fundamental human right and education is closely connected to the security of the country,” said Radka Rubilina, Human Rights Programme Officer at the OSCE Office in Yerevan. “The information about the education system should be easily accessible and understandable. Such an education system can ensure sophisticated society and stable economy.”

The report commissioned by the OSCE Office in Yerevan was conducted by the Armenian National Students’ Association (ANSA) which is an umbrella organization representing the rights of students through 17 local unions. It provides comprehensive statistical data regarding the perception of students of the current reforms in the country as well as a number of recommendations on how to tackle the challenges that still exist.

Armen Alexanyan, President of the Armenian National Students’ Association, added: “Knowledge and education are the most important resources nowadays through which the future is being shaped. The more qualified it will be, the more guarantees we will have that tomorrow we will have a state with a solid foundation. As the most active part of the society students should participate in evaluating the quality of education and introduce their own views to ensure better education for future generations.”

Students from the regions are more satisfied with the effectiveness of the reforms as compared to those from the capital, which may be accounted for by different level of demands set for the quality of education. Interestingly, the positive perception about the impact of the Bologna system is decreasing parallel to the years of study. The share of students considering the introduction of the Bologna system as a superficial, non-essential change is higher among students of senior years of both bachelor’s and master’s degrees as compared to those of junior years.

The full report in English can be found under the following link:

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