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ODIHR Director Link welcomes Nebraska legislature vote abolishing capital punishment

OSCE - Thu, 28/05/2015 - 17:35

WARSAW, 28 May 2015 – Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) today commended the legislature of Nebraska for voting to abolish the death penalty in that U.S. state.

“The legislature’s vote to abolish capital punishment is a welcome one,” Link said. “It is my hope that those states that continue to carry out executions will give serious consideration to following Nebraska’s example in abolishing this practice.”

The 30-19 vote in the legislature overrode a veto of the bill by the state’s governor, Pete Ricketts, when it first reached his desk on Wednesday.

While there is no OSCE commitment on the abolishment of the death penalty, OSCE participating States, including the United States, have committed themselves to keep the question of abolishment under consideration.

Further, the 2013 Istanbul Final Declaration by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly called on all states to adopt a moratorium on all executions, with the ultimate goal of abolishing the death penalty completely.

ODIHR publishes an annual background paper providing information on the status of the death penalty across the OSCE’s 57 participating States. The 2014 edition of the Background Paper, released last September, stated that 51 of these countries have abolished capital punishment outright, while another four maintain the penalty in law, but have moratoriums on carrying out executions. Belarus and the United States continue to maintain the death penalty in practice.

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A twenty seventh Russian convoy of 50 vehicles crossed into Ukraine and returned back through the Donetsk Border Crossing Point

OSCE - Thu, 28/05/2015 - 17:26


On 28 May 2015 at 07:00hrs (Moscow time), a Russian convoy arrived at the Donetsk Border Crossing Point (BCP). A total of 50 vehicles were checked by the Russian border guard and customs services. All the vehicles had crossed back into the Russian Federation by 15:10hrs on 28 May.




Leaving the Russian Federation

On 28 May 2015 at 07:00hrs, 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 44 cargo trucks and 6 support vehicles. All cargo trucks bore the inscription “Humanitarian help from the Russian Federation”.

The vehicles stopped at the customs control area and lined up in three lines, backdoors and/or tarpaulins of all of the cargo trucks were opened and visually checked from outside by Russian border guards and customs officers. One service dog was used by Russian border guard to check most of the cargo trucks. Ukrainian officers – 8 border guards and 1 customs officer were present during the check. They performed visual observation of the opened trucks from the outside together with Russian border guards. By 07:40hrs all vehicles had left the BCP towards Ukraine.

Returning to the Russian Federation

At 14:25 hrs on 28 May, the convoy arrived and lined up at the customs area .The backdoors of the trucks were opened and both Russian and Ukrainian border guards and customs officers visually checked the returning convoy. One service dog was used to check some of the cargo trucks. By 15:10hrs on 28 May all 50 vehicles had returned and crossed back into the Russian Federation.



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Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 27 May 2015

OSCE - Thu, 28/05/2015 - 16:24

This report is provided for the media and the general public.

The SMM monitored the implementation of the “Package of measures for the Implementation of the Minsk agreements”. Its monitoring was restricted by third parties and security considerations.* The SMM confirmed the deaths of three persons by shelling in Horlivka and saw damage consistent with an artillery strike. The number of ceasefire violations decreased in areas around Donetsk airport. A suspected signal mine exploded within 5 metres of an SMM vehicle close to government-controlled Andriivka (30km north of Mariupol). Due to security considerations, the SMM were unable to travel to Shyrokyne.

From an observation point at the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk central railway station (8km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM noticed a decrease in the number of ceasefire violations compared to previous days. Over a three hour period in the morning, the SMM heard nine explosions from west and north-west, and in the afternoon four explosions. The SMM also heard several bursts of anti-aircraft fire (23mm calibre) from the direction of Donetsk airport. In Luhansk region the SMM heard explosions consistent with both outgoing mortar and artillery in an area to the south-west of the SMM location near government-controlled Nyzhnie (56km north-west of Luhansk)[1].

The SMM saw the aftermath of shelling in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-north-east of Donetsk). Residents, including one injured by the shelling, told the SMM that shells struck at 18:00hrs on 26 May. The SMM saw nine crater impacts (all within a radius of 200 metres) at three locations in residential areas and conducted crater analysis at one location. At this location, the SMM saw the body of a deceased woman close to two crater impacts. The SMM estimated that the craters were caused by incoming artillery from the north-north-west. In both craters the SMM found shrapnel consistent with 122mm artillery. The SMM saw a house in Planernaya Street that had sustained a direct hit that destroyed the eastern facade, and found shrapnel consistent with 122mm artillery. At this location the SMM saw traces of blood. According to the “DPR” “emergency services” and local residents, a 38 year old man and his 11 year old daughter were killed instantly in this strike and his wife and two young children had been hospitalized with injuries. At City Central Hospital No.2 the SMM spoke with the wounded mother. She and her children had suffered shrapnel wounds. Later, the SMM saw three bodies at the mortuary (one a middle aged man, one woman and a child). The SMM assessed that all three were victims of the shelling.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces Major General, head of the Ukrainian side to the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination (JCCC) headquarters in government-controlled Soledar (77km north-north-east of Donetsk) alleged that the 26 May shelling of Horlivka came from Mine 6-7 (42km north-north-east of Donetsk and 7km north-west of Horlivka respectively), in areas controlled by “DPR”. The Major General alleged that the shelling was observed by the Ukrainian Armed Forces representative at the JCCC office in government-controlled Volnovakha (35km south-west of Donetsk).

Ukrainian Armed Forces and Russian Armed Forces officers at the JCCC observation post at “DPR”-controlled Donetsk central railway station (8km north-west of Donetsk city centre) informed the SMM that 12 officers (six from Ukrainian Armed Forces and six from Russian Armed Forces) have been deployed to monitor the ceasefire. The Russian Federation Armed Forces officers are deployed along the “DPR” side of the contact line, with Ukrainian Armed Forces on the government-controlled side, for a period of three days.

A suspected signal mine went off five metres from an SMM vehicle travelling on the main road close to government-controlled Andriivka (41km north-north-east of Mariupol), about 15km from the contact line, causing no damage or injury. The reason for the detonation is yet to be determined. The off road area was marked with mine warning signs. Following the incident a Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier told the SMM that there was a minefield east of the road, recently laid by Ukrainian Armed Forces. According to the soldier the detonation of the signal mine could have been caused by the vehicle’s vibrations.

In government-controlled Artema (26km north of Luhansk) the SMM were told by two men and three women (all in their sixties) that a number of houses were damaged by shelling on 23 May. The SMM saw one destroyed house and damage to several others. The SMM was not able to determine the direction from which the shells were fired. Residents said the village was also shelled on 7 May. There were no casualties on either date. The SMM noted the presence of Ukrainian Armed Forces in close vicinity to the village. Ukrainian Armed Forces corroborated the residents’ accounts of shelling on the night of 23 May.

The Cossack regional commander in “Lugansk People’s Republic”(“LPR”)-controlled Slovianoserbsk (32km north-west of Luhansk) told the SMM that clashes in “LPR”-controlled Sokilnyky (36km north-west of Luhansk), between Cossacks and the Ukrainian Armed Forces, on the morning of 26 May had resulted in the deaths of two “LPR” members - a claim supported by another local commander. However, staff at the local hospital in Slovianoserbsk told the SMM that there was only one confirmed death resulting from the incident.

At the bridge in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) the SMM was told by a group of civilians (mostly women, different ages) that a Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier on the bridge fired two or three warning shots into the air after a woman argued with checkpoint personnel. At another government-controlled checkpoint nearby, the SMM saw approximately 300 persons and 50 vehicles stationary. According to some of those present they were prevented from crossing into “LPR”-controlled areas. 

The SMM visited a formerly state-funded home for children with disabilities in “LPR”-controlled Krasnodon (43km south-east of Luhansk). The director of the home told the SMM that as there had been no budget to maintain the building for the last two years, the children suffer from inadequate health care and are undernourished. The home hosts 126 children (over half of whom are confined to bed), with serious psychological and physical disabilities. Due to the absence of salaries, there are no therapists available to provide children with paediatric rehabilitation. Staff members (who have not received a salary since December) and volunteers maintain the building. According to the director, they receive humanitarian support from the Russian Federation, the Akhmetov Foundation, and both private and international donors.

The SMM visited two Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas and noted some of the heavy weapons previously recorded by the SMM were missing. At one holding area, the SMM noted that there were six new pieces on site and that three were missing which the Commander said had been removed for maintenance. At another holding area the SMM noted that 11 heavy weapons pieces were missing. The Ukrainian Armed Forces Commander said nine pieces were being used for training and two pieces were undergoing maintenance. The SMM were unable to verify where weapons had been moved to. Locations where the weapons were held comply with the respective Minsk withdrawal lines.

Despite claims that the withdrawal of heavy weapons was complete, the SMM observed the following weapons’ movement in areas that are in violation of Minsk withdrawal lines. In “DPR”-controlled areas, the SMM observed a convoy of seven multi-purpose light armoured towing vehicles (MTLBs), four of which were mounted with surface-to-air missiles (9K35 Strela-10).

In Odessa the SMM monitored a rally of pro-Maidan activists at the Court of Appeal as an appeal was being heard regarding pre-trial measures of restraint (house arrest or pre-trial detention centre) for a journalist accused of separatism and possession of drugs (Articles 110 part 2, and 309 part 2 of the criminal code respectively). Approximately 60 people of all ages (5-10 of whom were female), including members of Oberih (a pro-Maidan civil society organization), the Council of Public Security (a pro-Maidan self-defence group), Auto-Maidan and Pravyy Sektor (Right Sector) took part. Half of the protestors were dressed in camouflage, four of whom were masked. Fifteen regular uniformed police, 20 riot police and 5-10 uniformed court bailiffs were present. Following a rally - during which activists accused the judges of corruption - activists pushed past police into the court. The activists entered the courtroom where the hearing had just concluded, grabbed the prosecutor’s papers and attempted to force the prosecutor outside. Police and bailiffs intervened, protected the prosecutor and escorted him to safety in a police vehicle. Activists threatened to put the prosecutor in the trash bin as an example of “people’s lustration.” The rally ended at 12:30hrs. No arrests were made at the scene, though the prosecutor later initiated proceedings against the activists.

The SMM monitored a trade unions-organized protest in front of the Cabinet of Ministers in Kyiv against the rise in gas prices and utility bills. Approximately 750 people – both men and women (60% female) – were present holding trade union banners. About 30 police watched proceedings. The event passed off peacefully.

The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Kherson,

Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv.


* Restrictions on SMM access and freedom of movement:

The SMM is restrained in fulfilling its monitoring functions by restrictions imposed by third parties and security considerations including the lack of information on whereabouts of landmines.

The security situation in Donbas is fluid and unpredictable and the cease-fire does not hold everywhere.

  • At the southern entrance to government-controlled Volnovakha (35km south-west of Donetsk) Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers at a checkpoint asked the SMM to provide patrol members’ nationalities. After a 20 minute interaction with the commanding officer, the SMM was allowed to proceed.

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

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Improving transparency and accountability of public spending in focus of regional OSCE-supported seminar in Vienna

OSCE - Thu, 28/05/2015 - 16:19

VIENNA, 28 May 2015 - The role of improving public procurement procedures for economic development and combating corruption, as well as the recent trends in public procurement, are the focus of a two-day Regional Seminar on Enhancing Public Procurement Regulation which started today in Vienna.

Some 40 public procurement policy-makers from Armenia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine are taking part.

“Economic development and combating corruption are key prerequisites for stability and security,” said Alexey Stukalo, Deputy Co-ordinator/Head of Economic Activities at the Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities.

He noted that the public procurement sector is well-known for being fraught with corruption risks. “Public procurement activities should be based on the principles of integrity, transparency, competitiveness, accountability, credibility and cost-effectiveness. Promotion of such principles contributes significantly to achieving better terms for the delivery of goods, performance of works and supply of services.”

Michel Nussbaumer, Director of the Legal Transition Programme at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), said: “Public procurement represents an average of 28% of general government expenditure and 13% of GDP in member countries of the OECD (the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), so amounts at risk of corruption are very significant.”

Caroline Nicholas, Senior Legal Officer at the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), said: “The revised UNCITRAL Model Law on Public Procurement promotes the ‘value for money’ principle in government spending, it pays special attention to ensuring transparency thereby supporting the fight against bribery and conflict of interest in procurement decisions.”

The seminar is co-organized by the Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities, the EBRD and UNCITRAL.

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Freedom of religion and belief in focus of OSCE seminar in Turkmenistan

OSCE - Thu, 28/05/2015 - 14:34

ASHGABAT, 28 May 2015 – Members of the Turkmen parliament, Mejlis, law-enforcement officials and representatives of research institutions attended an OSCE-organized seminar on international standards on freedom of religion and belief that concluded today.

The three-day event was designed to enhance their expertise on how to implement international standards on religious freedom.

The seminar combined theoretical presentations with interactive exercises and presented best practices in promoting religious freedom from other OSCE participating States. Two international experts from the United Kingdom provided a comprehensive overview of world religions, social context of religion as well as religious education and rights.

“All OSCE participating States are committed to adopting legislation that would ensure the citizens’ right to profess their religion while also designing policies to promote religious tolerance and inter-faith dialogue, which acquires special importance in diverse societies,” said Vardon Deniz Hoca, Human Dimension Officer of the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat.

He expressed hope that the event will contribute to supporting the government of Turkmenistan in implementing its commitments related to the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief.

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OSCE and partners support business forum to attract investment to southern Kyrgyzstan

OSCE - Thu, 28/05/2015 - 14:13
Vasilina Brazhko

A one-day OSCE-backed Business Forum “Osh – 2015” was held in the provincial capital Osh at the initiative of the Kyrgyz government’s representative in the region and support of country’s Investment Promotion Agency.

Some 200 representatives of the central and local government, business associations gathered for the event. Business representatives from Russia,  Kazakhstan, China, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and other countries also took part.

“Economic development is key to stability,” says Kristin Höltge, Senior Field Representative of the Head of the OSCE Centre in Bishkek adding that this is particularly important in the south of Kyrgyzstan, where many families have someone working as a labour migrant abroad and unemployment among young people is widespread. She said that investment into the local economy will help create job opportunities.

Forum participants learned about investment opportunities in the south and conducted discussions covering various areas including agriculture and food processing, mining, construction and tourism.

In addition to the OSCE Centre in Bishkek and its bureau in Osh, the event was also supported by UNDP, the German Agency for International Co-operation as well as the Swiss Association for International Cooperation, Helvetas .

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OSCE Annual Police Experts Meeting focuses on links between smuggling of migrants, human trafficking and organized crime

OSCE - Thu, 28/05/2015 - 12:25

BELGRADE, 28 May 2015 - Criminal justice experts and representatives from international organizations gathered in Belgrade today for the two-day OSCE Annual Police Experts Meeting, to discuss new trends related to links between organized crime, irregular migration and trafficking in human beings.   

The aim of these discussions is to explore ways to strengthen multi-agency co-operation in fighting trafficking in human beings and migration-related crimes committed by organized criminal groups in the OSCE area.

“The main driver behind the smuggling of irregular migrants and trafficking of people is financial gain, Therefore, all measures should be taken to trace criminal assets and confiscate them,” said Serbian State Secretary at the Ministry of Interior Aleksandar Nikolić as he opened the meeting on behalf of the Serbian 2015 OSCE Chairmanship. He reaffirmed Serbia’s commitment to the issue and said he looked forward to the Meeting’s discussions, sharing of good practices, nurturing of informal links and contribution to international and multi-stakeholder co-operation.

Alexey Lyzhenkov, OSCE Co-ordinator of Activities to Address Transnational Threats, underlined the alarming facts about the criminal business engaged in the smuggling of migrants and trafficking of people.

“Even more serious is the fact that in this case the smuggled and trafficked commodities are vulnerable human beings, often in despair because of a number of reasons, including conflicts, instability and poverty,” said  Lyzhenkov. “I am confident that this meeting will contribute to identifying recommendations for enhancing law enforcement capabilities in investigating, prosecuting and dismantling organized criminal groups engaged in the smuggling of migrants and trafficking of persons.”

The Meeting is co-organized by OSCE’s Transnational Threats Department, Strategic Police Matters Unit and the Serbian 2015 OSCE Chairmanship, and brings together experts from OSCE participating States and international organizations.

The main findings and outcomes of the Meeting will serve as guidance for further activities on this topic at the national and regional levels, and support the work of the OSCE when providing technical assistance to participating States and Partners for Co-operation. 

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OSCE Mission to Skopje trains teachers on non-discrimination, hate speech and personal data protection

OSCE - Thu, 28/05/2015 - 11:36
Ioanna Lachana, OSCE Mission to Skopje Mirvete Islam, OSCE Mission to Skopje Mihajlo Lahtov, OSCE Mission to Skopje

During the period of April – May 2015, the OSCE Mission to Skopje organized six training courses on anti-discrimination, hate speech and protection of personal data for nearly 120 teachers and professional staff from 22 high schools in Skopje, Tetovo, Gostivar, Kicevo, Struga and Prilep.

The training courses were organized jointly by the Mission’s Democratic Governance and Rule of Law units, in co-operation with the national Directorate for Personal Data Protection.

The aim was to enrich teachers’ knowledge of non-discrimination, hate speech, and hate crime in schools, and to also help them understand the importance of personal data protection for students, teachers and other school employees.

“Empowering teachers with knowledge on issues pertaining to school safety, conflict resolution and mediation, is an effective tool that contributes to a safer and co-operative environment in schools,” said Mission’s Head of the Human Dimension Department Ioana Cosma.

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OSCE PA President, Secretary General meet OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Dacic in Belgrade

OSCE - Thu, 28/05/2015 - 09:28

BELGRADE, 27 May 2015 – OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Ilkka Kanerva (MP, Finland) and Secretary General Spencer Oliver met today with OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic in Belgrade for extensive discussions on the situation in and around Ukraine and other topics.

Chairperson Dacic briefed the PA President and Secretary General on the activities of the recently inaugurated working groups to deal with various aspects of the Ukraine crisis, including security; political affairs; IDPs, refugees and humanitarian assistance; and economic affairs and rehabilitation, in line with the Package of Measures on the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements.

The sides also discussed the critical security situation in and around the Donetsk airport as well as in Shyrokyne, located 20 km east of Mariupol, Ukraine.

They also expressed concern at troubling political and security developments in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and discussed the OSCE’s work in relation to the situation.

The sides also discussed issues related to Kosovo.

President Kanerva invited the Chairperson-in-Office to address and attend the OSCE PA’s upcoming Annual Session, which the Chairperson-in-Office accepted.

The Assembly’s 24th Annual Session will be held in Helsinki on 5-9 July and will bring together parliamentarians from the OSCE’s 57 participating States to discuss and adopt resolutions on political affairs, economics, the environment and human rights. The Annual Session is open to the media.

The sides also discussed ongoing initiatives to mark the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act, the OSCE’s founding document. 

Chairperson-in-Office Dacic informed President Kanerva of a possible ministerial meeting of the OSCE on the occasion of the Final Act’s anniversary to be held in Helsinki following the PA’s Annual Session and invited the President to participate.

President Kanerva and Secretary General Oliver are in Belgrade to participate in the fifth of the OSCE PA’s Helsinki +40 seminars, which aim to generate ideas for organizational reform. The Belgrade seminar is hosted by the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia in co-operation with the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence (BFPE). 

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Regional co-operation key to ensure peace and stability, says OSCE Secretary General on visit to Albania

OSCE - Wed, 27/05/2015 - 22:06

TIRANA, 27 May 2015 - The OSCE Secretary General, Lamberto Zannier, today concluded a two-day visit to Tirana, during which he participated as a special guest at the summit of Heads of State and Government of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) and met with Albania’s highest officials. Throughout his visit, he emphasized that regional co-operation is key to ensuring peace, security and stability.

“Recent events in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have highlighted why we all need to keep working to strengthen stability and security in the region, as well as the importance of collective engagement in promoting dialogue, tolerance and non-discrimination throughout South-East Europe,” said Zannier.

Zannier noted that the OSCE has played a significant role in the post-conflict transition process in the region through its Institutions and field operations, and that, twenty years on, the Organization remains fully committed to supporting the efforts of the South-East European countries to strengthen democratic institutions and the rule of law and to promote respect for human rights.

He noted that the 2015 Serbian OSCE Chairmanship has set intensifying regional co-operation in the Western Balkans as a priority, creating a positive agenda aimed at advancing reconciliation processes.

While pointing out significant progress, Zannier said that there are new challenges facing the region that can only be tackled through a joint regional approach. “The phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters is a particularly alarming security threat which affects many parts of the world, including the Western Balkan region.”

Regional co-operation and OSCE assistance to Albania were discussed in the Secretary General’s meetings with President of Albania Bujar Nishani, Assembly Speaker Ilir Meta, Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati and Chair of the opposition Democratic Party Lulzim Basha.

The upcoming local government elections set for 21 June, which are being observed by an OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission, were also discussed. Zannier underscored the importance of free and fair elections.

Secretary General Zannier and Minister of Defence Mimi Kodheli participated in an event marking the conclusion of the second phase of a project to remove and destroy highly hazardous chemicals stored near populated areas. In all, 116 tonnes of chemicals that are toxic to both people and the environment have been safely packaged and will be transported abroad for destruction. This project, which is run by the OSCE Presence in Albania with financial support from the Czech Republic, Turkey, Germany, Austria and Norway, has made a significant contribution to improving the security and safety of the people of Albania.   


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OSCE helps Albania dispose of highly toxic chemicals

OSCE - Wed, 27/05/2015 - 21:53

TIRANA, 27 May 2015 - One hundred sixteen tonnes of hazardous chemicals will be shipped out of Albania from today for safe destruction thanks to a project run by the OSCE Presence in Albania, with the financial support of several OSCE participating States.

Before the project got underway, the chemicals were being stored near inhabited areas in their severely damaged packaging, putting both people’s lives and the environment at risk. In 2013, the chemicals were repackaged according to international safety standards and moved to a secure location for storage near Tirana.

“This project exemplifies the mutual trust and effective co-operation between the Albanian authorities and the OSCE Presence,” OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier said at a ceremony marking the start of the shipping and destruction phase of the project, organized today at the storage premises.

“With OSCE support, Albania has made impressive progress on demilitarization in recent years. I encourage Albania to continue its efforts to tackle the challenge of unexploded military ordnance and become a regional centre of excellence on demilitarization processes,” he added.

Albanian Defence Minister Mimi Kodheli said that this project is an important first step toward the ultimate goal of safely destroying all surplus hazardous chemicals in Albania.

The Head of the OSCE Presence in Albania, Ambassador Florian Raunig, as well as ambassadors and representatives of the Czech Republic, Turkey, Germany, Austria and Norway, countries which financially supported the project, attended the ceremony.

The OSCE Presence has been assisting Albania in its efforts to safely destroy surplus conventional ammunition and dangerous toxic chemicals since 2008. The OSCE Presence has already helped to dispose of 60 tonnes of a toxic rocket fuel component known as mélange and 120 tonnes of dichloromethane, and provided equipment for the destruction of surplus ammunition.

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OSCE Representative lauds UN Security Council Resolution on protection of journalists

OSCE - Wed, 27/05/2015 - 18:03

NEW YORK, 27 May 2015 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović welcomed the UN Security Council’s passing today of Resolution 2222 on the protection of journalists.

“With this Resolution, the UN Security Council puts focus on a very important issue for media freedom,” Mijatović said. “We are witnessing attacks on members of the media every day and states need to do more to improve journalists’ safety.”

Resolution 2222 was unanimously adopted by the UN Security Council on 27 May, condemning all violations and abuses committed against journalists, media professionals and associated personnel in situations of armed conflict. The Resolution, put forward by Lithuania, also calls upon all parties in armed conflict to bring an end to such practices.

“The situation for journalists reporting from conflict zones around the world is especially worrisome when it comes to journalists’ safety. Joint international efforts like today’s UN Security Council Resolution are crucial to raising awareness on this issue,” Mijatović said.

On 15-16 June, the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media will organize a conference to examine and review the current situation relating to the safety of journalists reporting from conflicts. More information about the conference is available at

Mijatović is in New York participating in a panel discussion at the UN on the protection of journalists. The panel discussion “Protection of journalists and media freedom - key to sustainable future” is hosted by the Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius and Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs. 

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on

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More Muslim voices in Europe condemning anti-Semitism needed, says Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office on Combating Anti-Semitism

OSCE - Wed, 27/05/2015 - 17:29
Rashad Huseynov, OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Baku

Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office on Combating Anti-Semitism, Andrew Baker, stressed importance of different communities to join forces to tackle anti-semitism.

“We have witnessed important and moving symbolic actions such as the encircling of the synagogues in Oslo and Copenhagen by Muslims who want to show their solidarity with their fellow Jewish citizens. We must build on this,” said Baker speaking at the Third World Forum on Intercultural Dialogues that took place in Baku on 18-19 May 2015.

He noted that today many European Jews question their future in Europe. “An EU survey of Jews by the Agency for Fundamental Rights found that nearly 30 percent were considering emigration, while in some countries, notably Hungary, France and Belgium, this number was well over 40 percent,” Baker said.

Recalling the dangers the Jewish communities faced earlier this year as victims of terror attacks in Paris and Copenhagen, Baker applauded the French government for calling on the military to ensure that all Jewish schools and synagogues in France are protected. “But we know this is only a short-term solution and cannot be sustained indefinitely,” he said.

Underlining the important role that Muslim communities could play in this field, Baker called for more Muslim voices in Europe that will speak out and condemn anti-Semitism.

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Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 26 May 2015

OSCE - Wed, 27/05/2015 - 16:28

This report is provided for the media and the general public

The SMM monitored the implementation of the “Package of measures for the Implementation of the Minsk agreements”. Relatively low-level fighting continued in and around Donetsk airport and in a number of locations in the Luhansk region. The SMM concluded heavy weapons were not in situ at a “DPR” holding site. Civilians remained dissatisfied with the closure of a government-controlled bridge across the contact line in Luhansk region.

The SMM observed relatively low-level but persistent fighting in the area of Donetsk airport in “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk city, noting 73 explosions over eight hours during the reporting period.[1] The SMM observed the explosions from the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation point at the Donetsk central railway station (“DPR”-controlled, 8km north-west of Donetsk city centre) and concluded that they were consistent with artillery shelling mainly to the north and west of the SMM’s position, from where the SMM also heard sporadic small-arms and light-weapons fire to the west between 14:10 and 18:00hrs.

At the JCCC observation point the Ukrainian Armed Forced representative told the SMM that six additional representatives from JCCC headquarters in Soledar – three Ukrainian Armed Forces and three Russian Federation Armed Forces officers – had come to help monitor ceasefire violations in the area and determine responsibility. He added that, as a result, he expected a decrease in violations during their three-day deployment.

The SMM assessed the situation around Donetsk airport by speaking with the Ukrainian Armed Forces representative to the JCCC office in Avdiivka (government-controlled, 15km north of Donetsk), who reported heavy mortar shelling (82mm and 120mm) during the evening of 25 May targeting Avdiivka as well as government-controlled Opytne and Pisky (10km north-north-west and 10km north-west of Donetsk, respectively). Meanwhile, the Russian Federation Armed Forces Chief of Operations in Soledar described the general security situation as stable but tense, and added that Horlivka (“DPR”-controlled, 36km north-north-east of Donetsk) also remains a hotspot.

In southern Donetsk region, the SMM was unable to monitor the situation in and around Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) due to security concerns. Further, residents of Vodiane (government-controlled, 19km north-east of Mariupol) told the SMM they continue to hear shelling around Shyrokyne as well as in the direction of government-controlled Chermalyk and Hranitne (31km and 46km north-east of Mariupol, respectively).

The SMM observed that the overall situation in the Luhansk region remained calm. Though in government-controlled Shchastia (20km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard a total of seven explosions – including five explosions to the east that government-checkpoint personnel said were 82mm mortar rounds fired from “LPR”-controlled territory and two outgoing rounds (type unknown). And while in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north of Luhansk), the SMM heard three explosions in the direction of “LPR”-controlled territory.

In government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed continued frustration by civilians denied passage across the line of contact in both directions by Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint personnel. Some 100 people, mainly middle-aged and older women, waited to cross the bridge there into “LPR”-controlled territory and some 150 people, mainly women and children, were waiting to cross into government-controlled territory. But one government-checkpoint commander told the SMM that the bridge remained closed by order of the Luhansk governor and that only school children and students are allowed to cross into government-controlled territory, while adding that older people and people with disabilities might also “unofficially” be granted passage.

The SMM met with teachers and an education official in the “LPR”-controlled towns of Molodohvardiysk and Krasnodon (35km and 43km south-east of Luhansk, respectively). Among the issues they raised were that teachers and staff members continue to work despite not having been paid since at least January, and that “LPR education authorities” were in the process of preparing teachers to switch from the Ukrainian to the Russian school curriculum by August.

The SMM re-visited two “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas. At one site, the SMM observed that all the weapons previously recorded there were in situ, in compliance with the Minsk withdrawal lines. At the other site, the SMM was not able to conclude that the previously recorded weapons were in situ – observing that the serial numbers on four BM-21 Grad multiple launch rocket systems (122mm) were different from what had previously been recorded and also observing that two previously recorded D-30 towed howitzers (122mm) were missing. The “DPR” site commander offered no explanation for the different serial numbers on the four Grad MLRS and he said the two howitzers had been taken away for maintenance.

Despite claims that the withdrawal of heavy weapons has been completed, the SMM observed the following movement or presence of weapons in areas that are non-compliant with the Minsk withdrawal lines: In a government-controlled area, one anti-tank guided missile system on a tracked infantry fighting vehicle. In terms of other military movements, when passing a known “DPR” “military” training area east of Donetsk city, the SMM observed 11 unmarked main battle tanks (T-72s). Also east of Donetsk, the SMM observed a convoy of 15 military-type trucks, including five fuel tankers, driving east.

In Kyiv the SMM observed approximately 40 internally displaced persons (IDPs), mainly women and children, receiving humanitarian aid at the large volunteer-run Centre for Assistance to IDPs. Staff said the number of IDPs they serve daily, some 150 people, has been decreasing since February, though they have also recently seen new IDPs from Crimea.

In Lviv the SMM monitored a torchlight march on 24 May in honour of the “Day of Heroes.” A group of some 100 people, mainly men between 20 and 60 years old and mainly Svoboda Party supporters, took part in the procession, which ended at the city’s monument to Stepan Bandera. Speeches were made and the national anthem was played before the crowd peacefully dispersed. Approximately 30 police officers provided security while another 50 officers directed traffic around the march.

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


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


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OSCE Asian Conference to start in Seoul on Monday

OSCE - Wed, 27/05/2015 - 16:16

VIENNA / SEOUL, 27 May 2015 – The annual OSCE conference for its Asian Partners for Co-operation will start in Seoul on Monday, 1 June.

The two-day OSCE Asian Conference will be hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea and will focus on the changing global security environment and visions of multilateral security co-operation in Asia.

Ambassador Vuk Žugić, Chair of the OSCE Permanent Council on behalf of the Serbian OSCE Chairmanship, Ambassador Thomas Greminger, Head of the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the OSCE and Chairperson of the OSCE Contact Group with the Asian Partners for Co-operation, and OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier will deliver opening addresses at the conference, followed by keynote speeches by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea Yun Byung-se and the Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland Didier Burkhalter.

The opening session scheduled to take place from 9:15 to 10:00 on Monday, 1 June, and the closing session scheduled from 12:00 to 13:00 on Tuesday, 2 June, are open to the media.

The conference will take place at the Lotte Hotel Seoul, Crystal Ballroom (Eulji-ro 30, Jung-Gu, Seoul, 100-721 Korea). For inquiries, please contact Mr. Park Byung Ho and Ms. Jang Ju Yeon from the International Security Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, Tel. 82-2-2100-7281, email:

On Monday, 1 June, from 10:40-11:40, the OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier will meet the media for Q&A at the Lotte Hotel Seoul, Pine Room, 3rd floor. Language regime: English.

In addition, Secretary General Lamberto Zannier will also participate in the Special Session on the Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative (NAPCI) hosted by the Republic of Korea as a side event on 1 June, from 17:30 to 19:00 (same venue as the OSCE Asian Conference). This event will present an opportunity to enhance the participants’ understanding of NAPCI.

More information about the 2015 OSCE Asian Conference can be found at

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OSCE Office in Tajikistan supports a high-level conference on regional anti-drugs cooperation

OSCE - Wed, 27/05/2015 - 13:50

DUSHANBE, 27 May 2015 – A high-level conference aimed at consolidating international anti-drug efforts was held today in Dushanbe. The gathering was organized by the State Drug Control Agency with the support of the OSCE Office in Tajikistan and other stakeholders.

The one-day event brought together some 300 high-level participants from Anti-Drug agencies of Afghanistan, Central Asia, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, South Korea, Turkey, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Representatives of the EU Delegation to Tajikistan, UN agencies also took part.

Yury Fedotov, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Executive Director, said: “The need for such efforts was never more important. This process provides a good opportunity for the countries of Central Asia to analyse regional cooperation and coordination in view of the threats posed by Afghan opiates.”

“International cooperation in anti-drug efforts will remain one of the priorities of the state policy of the Republic of Tajikistan”, said Rustam Nazarzoda, Director of Drug Control Agency under the President of the Republic of Tajikistan. He expressed hope that within the current dialogue on the threat of drugs new approaches to strengthen effective measures to control drugs will be developed.

Conference participants adopted a joint statement on consolidation of efforts of international anti-drug cooperation and developing proposals to be included in discussions during the United Nations Special Session of the General Assembly on the World Drug Problem to be held next year.

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

OSCE - Wed, 27/05/2015 - 08:58

KYIV, 27 May 2015 – The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) will hold its regular news briefing tomorrow in Kyiv.

Alexander Hug, the SMM’s 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, 28 May, at 13:15 (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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OSCE trains military officers on confidence- and security-building measures in Kazakhstan

OSCE - Tue, 26/05/2015 - 17:16

ASTANA, 26 May 2015 - A regional training seminar on the practical implementation of the OSCE Vienna Document 2011 on confidence- and security-building measures began today in Astana.

The OSCE Programme Office in Astana organized the four-day event in co-operation with Kazakhstan's Defence Ministry and with the support of the OSCE field presences for some 50 military officers from Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Participants will discuss how to ensure the implementation of the Document's provisions in Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus and the role of the OSCE in promoting regional security and the challenges it faces in this regard.

Sharing their expertise are military and civilian experts from Belarus, France, Germany and Hungary as well as representatives from the OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia.

“The Vienna Document is one of the most important instruments of the OSCE Politico-Military Dimension and it is based on co-operation, transparency, confidence-building and a system of verification,” said Major General Askhat Ryspayev, Head of the National University of Defence, “Although the main goal of our annual seminars is to learn the letter and word of the Vienna Document, it is equally vital that the participants come to understand the spirit of the Document too.”

Ambassador Natalia Zarudna, the Head of the OSCE Programme Office in Astana, said: “For the last year the necessity of strictly fulfilling the obligations of the Vienna Document 2011 has become more obvious. Under the current complicated security conditions, all participating States need to once again analyse the accomplishments and shortcomings in the work of the OSCE and other international organizations. States need to be prompted to re-examine and renew the arsenal of tools to counter new threats and challenges to the indivisibility of security in the OSCE region.”

On 29 May, the participants will conduct a simulated inspection visit to the 36th Air Assault Brigade base near Astana and discuss their findings in accordance with the provisions of the Vienna Document on compliance and verification.

The Vienna Document 2011 obliges OSCE participating States to share information on their armed forces and military activities. It also contains provisions on compliance and verification, such as conducting and hosting inspections and evaluations, as well as on risk reduction, military contacts and co-operation, and prior notification of certain military activities.

The regional seminars on the Vienna Document in Kazakhstan have been conducted with the support of OSCE Field Operation in Astana since 2007. This event is part of the Office's long-standing effort to raise awareness about OSCE confidence- and security-building measures and promote regional security.

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OSCE Mission to Moldova organizes mentoring workshop for psychologists to combat domestic violence

OSCE - Tue, 26/05/2015 - 16:52
160201 Rachel Bending

On 21 and 22 May 2015, the OSCE Mission to Moldova held a mentoring workshop for psychologists as part of its project to combat domestic violence. The workshop was the first such event to take place in Moldova and was organized by the OSCE Mission to Moldova, the OSCE Gender Section and the Danish Centre for Gender, Equality and Diversity (KVINFO).

During the event, 12 psychologists from women’s shelters in Chisinau, Balti, Causeni and Drochia explored mentoring techniques designed to foster the sharing of knowledge and skills between experienced psychologists and junior professionals. The aim is to attract more psychologists to the areas of family counselling and domestic violence and to encourage the creation of mentoring networks.

“Unfortunately, many women victims of domestic violence do not receive the help they need,” said Ina Gradinaru, a workshop participant. “This workshop has equipped me with valuable skills and insights that will allow me to assist more women victims of domestic violence in Moldova.”

Despite the fact that around 40 per cent of women in Moldova have suffered from domestic violence, a mapping study conducted by the OSCE Mission to Moldova has confirmed that there is a shortage of psychologists qualified to support domestic violence victims in the country.

For more information on OSCE mentoring initiatives, please visit:

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OSCE/ODIHR final report on Estonia’s parliamentary elections recommends additional measures to further enhance transparency and accountability of Internet voting and campaign finance

OSCE - Tue, 26/05/2015 - 15:56
Estonia, Parliamentary Elections, 1 March 2015: Final Report

The introduction of end-to-end verifiability and the certification in the Internet voting system are among the main recommendations contained in a final report by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) on the 1 March 2015 parliamentary elections in Estonia.

While the report, published on 26 May 2015, noted that Internet voting enjoys a high degree of trust in Estonia and was administered efficiently and in line with the legal framework, it also recommends that the National Electoral Committee consider publishing full audit reports of the Internet voting system and producing and retaining records at all stages of the process. The report highlights that publishing detailed and formal procedures and deadlines for software development, testing and updates of the system could also increase transparency. It also recommends that qualifications for the members of the Electronic Voting Committee be formalized and all of the Committee’s decisions be formally adopted and published.

The report notes that the legal framework for regulating political party and campaign finance is generally solid. It points out, however, that the misuse of public resources, specifically by local government authorities, for campaigning is a continuing problem. The report recommends that consideration be given to limiting the amount a single donor may contribute to a candidate or political party in a year. It also calls upon the authorities to consider amending the law to provide the Political Party Finance Supervision Committee with more resources and authority to conduct investigations to improve the effectiveness of political and campaign finance oversight. To enhance the transparency of campaign finance, the report recommends that the authorities amend the law to require reporting on election-related expenditures by third parties.

The OSCE/ODIHR election expert team (EET) noted a positive trend of parties across the political spectrum placing candidates belonging to national minorities on party lists, in some cases in prominent positions, coupled with greater efforts by parties and candidates to reach out to Russian-speaking voters, including with campaign information in Russian. The report recommends, however, that the authorities maintain and enhance their efforts to stimulate the naturalization rate among the still-large group of people of undetermined citizenship, with a view to granting them suffrage rights.

On 15 February, ODIHR deployed an EET to observe the parliamentary elections. The OSCE/ODIHR EET focused on particular aspects of the elections related to Internet voting, political party and campaign finance, and the participation of national minorities.

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