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Paving the way for preventing and countering VERLT in the OSCE region discussed at side event during OSCE Ministerial Council in Milan

OSCE - Sun, 12/09/2018 - 01:25
Communication and Media Relations Section

Recent advances in the OSCE’s pioneering preventive work against violent extremism and terrorism (VERLT) was the topic of a side event at the 2018 OSCE Ministerial Council in Milan on Tuesday, 6 December 2018.

Speakers at the event were Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák and representatives of the OSCE Secretariat and field operations.

Foreign Minister Kneissl stressed the importance of taking a whole of society approach to countering VERLT. “No country is immune to this threat, and people who are radicalized are not necessarily the losers in our societies,” she said. “Human rights and rule of law have to be at the forefront of any strategy against VERLT.”

Foreign Minister Lajčák likened VERLT to a virus that attacks societies from within. This makes the preventive work of the OSCE all the more valuable, he said, citing the Organization’s convening power and the expertise of its Transnational Threats Department and field operations.

The work of the OSCE in preventing and countering VERLT has shifted in recent years from a policy agenda to a growing community of practice, said Georgia Holmer, Senior Adviser on Anti-terrorism Issues in the Action against Terrorism Unit (ATU) of the TNT Department. She noted an increase among participating States in political appetite to embrace preventive measures, the development of national action plans, the co-ordination of governmental and non-governmental actors and demand for OSCE support.

Holmer highlighted the OSCE’s Leaders against Intolerance and Violent Extremism (LIVE) Initiative, a comprehensive training and coaching programme for youth, women and community leaders designed to enable civil society actors to take action against VERLT. A regional LIVE train-the-trainers programme for Youth Leaders will be launched next week in South-Eastern Europe, she said.

She also introduced the audience to a series of technical guidebooks being developed by the ATU to address specific challenges in the implementation of P/C VERLT policies. The Role of Civil Society in Preventing and Countering VERLT was published this year and three further publications are scheduled for 2019.

Innovative practices

The work of two OSCE field operations in assisting their host countries with the prevention of VERLT were highlighted at the event. Fejzo Numanaj, Head of the Politico-Military Department at the OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe, spoke about the support his Office provides to Tajikistan in the implementation of its national action plan against VERLT and the training courses it organizes for parents and teachers in communities throughout the country.

Numanaj stressed the usefulness of conducting gender-disaggregated analysis of the feedback received from the training, revealing different ways in which the dangers of VERLT affect mothers and fathers. Women typically cite the lack of adequate knowledge of the Internet, where much of the recruitment to violent extremism takes place, as well as labour migration to the Russian Federation, where their children are vulnerable to recruiters, as their top concerns, he said. 

Selma Zekovic, Acting Head of Security Co-operation at the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, outlined the Mission’s longstanding partnership with the BiH government in the fight against VERLT and its work in communities, including a project assisting over 1,000 Muslim imams in delivering counter narratives to violent extremism.

Young people are highly vulnerable to recruitment to radicalization; at the same time, they can offer unique insights from the perspective of their particular groups, Zekovic said. She presented a video documentary shot as part of an innovative project in which education students created a theatre play about the radicalization of a young woman.  The students are performing the play in the hope that it will help others in similar situations to recognize the dangers of being drawn into violent extremist groups.

Effective prevention of VERLT requires sensitivity to the uniqueness of the local context, participants concluded during the discussion at the event. At the same time, sharing of ideas is important. The OSCE’s successful social media campaign #UnitedCVE, launched in 2016, serves as a platform for sharing ideas and reinforcing good initiatives across the OSCE region.

Categories: Central Europe

Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 7 December 2018

OSCE - Sat, 12/08/2018 - 15:59

This report is for the media and the general public.

Summary

  • Compared with the previous reporting period, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in both Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
  • The Mission observed weapons in violation of withdrawal lines on both sides of the contact line.
  • The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to water infrastructure on both sides of the contact line, as well as to enable repair works to damaged houses in Marinka. It continued to facilitate the operation of the Donetsk Filtration Station.
  • Restrictions to the Mission’s access continued in all three disengagement areas. The SMM was also restricted in Izvaryne.*
  • In Kyiv, the SMM monitored a peaceful protest during which it heard participants expressing views critical of the Russian Federation and calling for banning Russian-owned businesses in Ukraine.

Ceasefire violations[1]

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including 32 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 130 explosions). The majority of ceasefire violations, including the majority of explosions, were recorded in the Avdiivka-Yasynuvata-Donetsk airport area.

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations (no explosions), compared with the previous reporting period (ten explosions).

Disengagement areas[2]

Positioned in areas close to the disengagement area near Zolote (government-controlled, 60km west of Luhansk) and inside the disengagement area near Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed a calm situation.

Withdrawal of weapons

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons in implementation of the Memorandum and the Package of Measures and its Addendum.

In violation of the withdrawal lines

Government-controlled areas

7 December

  • A surface-to-air missile system (9K33 Osa) in Lebedynske (16km north-east of Mariupol)

Non-government-controlled areas

7 December

  • Two self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) and four towed howitzers (D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm) near Bile (22km west of Luhansk)

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites

Government-controlled areas

7 December

  • Two surface-to-air missile systems (9K33) near Kasianivka (22km north of Mariupol)

A permanent storage site beyond the respective withdrawal lines in a non-government-controlled area of Luhansk region

7 December

  • Five tanks (four T-64 and one T-72) and two self-propelled howitzers (2S1) remained missing. The presence of some weapons could not be verified.*

Indications of military presence in the security zone[3]

Government-controlled areas

7 December

  • An armoured personnel carrier (BTR-70) near Popasna (69km west of Luhansk)

Unexploded ordnance and new mine hazard signs

In a residential area in the Kyivskyi district of Donetsk city, on Avdiivska Street, the SMM saw for the first time four pieces of unexploded ordnance (UXO) embedded in the ground, assessed as the motor sections of Grad missiles.

The Mission saw for the first time an improvised mine hazard sign, consisting of a wooden pole with a piece of red cloth attached on top, on Stratonavtiv Street in the Kyivskyi district of Donetsk city. It also saw for the first time three new mine hazard signs (“Stop Mines” written in Russian on paper) in a residential area of Spartak (non-government-controlled, 9km north of Donetsk) on the side of a road leading to Donetsk airport.

SMM facilitation of repairs to civilian infrastructure

The Mission facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repair works to the Petrivske water pumping station near Artema (government-controlled, 26km north of Luhansk) and to water pipelines in Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk), as well as to damaged houses in Marinka (government-controlled, 23km south-west of Donetsk). It continued to facilitate the operation of the Donetsk Filtration Station.

 

Border areas not under government control

At a border crossing point near Izvaryne (52km south-east of Luhansk), a member of the armed formations told the SMM to leave the area after five minutes. During its presence, the SMM saw no traffic crossing the border in either direction.*

While at a border crossing point near Verkhnoharasymivka (57km south-east of Luhansk) for about 25 minutes, the Mission saw 11 people (eight men, three women, mixed ages) exiting Ukraine.

While at a border crossing point near Sievernyi (50km south-east of Luhansk) for about 45 minutes, the SMM saw 39 people (24 men and 14 women, mixed ages, and a boy, about 5 years old) entering Ukraine and three women (mixed ages) exiting Ukraine.

Protest in Kyiv

The SMM observed a peaceful protest organized by National Corps and Natsionalny Druzhyny in Kyiv. On Independence Square, the Mission saw about 650 people (mostly men, aged 20-30), about one-third of them dressed in camouflage clothing with Natsionalny Druzhyny insignia, who later started walking in columns on Instytutska Street towards the Presidential Administration building at 11 Bankova Street. There the SMM heard some of the protestors expressing views critical of the Russian Federation and calling for banning Russian-owned businesses in Ukraine. It saw about 100 law enforcement officers present.

Other observations

In Uzhhorod (182km west of Ivano-Frankivsk), the SMM observed 15 children (boys and girls, aged 8-15) participating in a flash mob on the occasion of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.

The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Kharkiv, Dnipro and Chernivtsi.

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

The SMM’s monitoring and freedom of movement are restricted by security hazards and threats, including risks posed by mines, UXO and other impediments – which vary from day to day. The SMM’s mandate provides for safe and secure access throughout Ukraine. All signatories of the Package of Measures have agreed on the need for this safe and secure access, that restriction of the SMM’s freedom of movement constitutes a violation, and on the need for rapid response to these violations. They have also agreed that the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) should contribute to such response and co-ordinate mine clearance. Nonetheless, the armed formations in parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions frequently deny the SMM access to areas adjacent to Ukraine’s border outside control of the Government (for example, see below). The SMM’s operations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions remain restricted following the fatal incident of 23 April 2017 near Pryshyb; these restrictions continued to limit the Mission’s observations.

Denial of access:

  • At a border crossing point near Izvaryne, a member of the armed formations told the SMM to leave the area.

Regular restrictions related to disengagement areas and mines/UXO:

  • The sides continued to deny the SMM full access to the three disengagement areas, as well as the ability to travel certain roads previously identified as important for effective monitoring by the Mission and for civilians’ movement, through failure to conduct comprehensive clearance of mines and UXO.
  • North of the bridge in Shchastia (government-controlled, 20km north of Luhansk), a Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC told the SMM that no demining activities had taken place in the past 24 hours and that the road south of the bridge was still mined.

Conditional access:

  • At an armed formations’ checkpoint near Horlivka (non-government-controlled, 42km north-east of Donetsk), two armed members of the armed formations allowed the SMM to proceed only upon inspecting the boots of both SMM vehicles.
  • The SMM could not verify the presence of some weapons that were in a locked container at a permanent storage site in a non-government-controlled area of Luhansk region (see above).

[1] For a complete breakdown of ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table. During the reporting period, the SMM camera in Hranitne and Krasnohorivka were not operational and mist and fog limited the observation capabilities of the majority of other SMM cameras.

[2] Disengagement is foreseen in the Framework Decision of the Trilateral Contact Group relating to disengagement of forces and hardware of 21 September 2016.

[3] This hardware is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.

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Categories: Central Europe

In meetings in Washington, OSCE PA’s Voridis says that effective counter-terrorism strategies require co-ordinated action across the OSCE area

OSCE - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 20:49

WASHINGTON, 7 December 2018 – Wrapping up a visit to the United States, Chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Ad Hoc Countering Terrorism (CCT) Makis Voridis (MP, Greece) said today that effective counter-terrorism measures require a multifaceted approach, including a robust role for parliamentarians and the OSCE.

Beginning the week at the UN headquarters in New York and holding a series of meetings in Washington, DC, Voridis heard from a range of experts and policymakers working on counter-terrorism strategies on the international and domestic fronts in the United States. Participating in a briefing at the U.S. Helsinki Commission in Washington on Tuesday, Voridis was joined by U.S. Congressman and Vice-Chair of the CCT Richard Hudson, who discussed the contribution of the PA in advancing co-ordination on border control and information sharing.

Voridis emphasized the power of 323 members of the OSCE PA asking specific questions of their governments about what they are doing to implement international obligations.

“In addressing terrorism and violent extremism, parliamentarians can promote innovative legislation and provide effective oversight of governmental activities in all the OSCE participating States, ultimately bridging the distance between our constituencies and the organization,” Voridis said. “Further, by bringing citizens’ concerns to the OSCE’s attention and by monitoring that its commitments are properly implemented at the national level, OSCE parliamentarians can contribute to make the work of the OSCE more focused and relevant.”

Hudson stressed that U.S. engagement in the OSCE PA is making contributions to border control and information sharing in the context of preventing and countering terrorism and violent extremism.

“This Assembly is a valuable forum where my congressional colleagues and our counterparts in countries ranging from Canada to Russia get together and have frequent discussions about the issues of the day and try to find common solutions to the benefit of all our citizens. In recent years I have been pleased to see that the Assembly has responded to our citizens’ needs by paying increasing attention to one of my absolute priorities, which is tackling terrorism,” Hudson said.

He stressed that the CCT offers an important opportunity to make a difference in the international effort to address the principal threat to international peace and security posed by terrorism.

Hudson presented to Voridis the U.S. response to the OSCE PA’s initiative on border control and information sharing, a practical approach to combating the threat posed by returning and relocating foreign terrorist fighters spearheaded by the CCT to promote best practices.

In Washington, Voridis met with members of the U.S.’s OSCE PA delegation, as well as representatives of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, the U.S. Institute of Peace, and leading experts from civil society and academia.

The sides explored ways to strengthen the PA’s co-operation with actors on the domestic level in the United States. Voridis stressed that the OSCE PA is working to leverage its strengths to promote more informed and co-ordinated actions at the parliamentary level across the OSCE area.

For the press release on the New York leg of the visit, please click here.

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Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Ministerial Council in Milan concludes with decisions in OSCE’s politico-military, economic and environmental, and human dimensions

OSCE - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 20:33

MILAN, Italy, 7 December 2018 – Decisions and declarations all across three of the OSCE’s security dimensions – the politico-military, economic and environmental, and human dimensions – were agreed by OSCE participating States at close of the 25th OSCE Ministerial Council in Milan today.

On cross-dimensional issues, there was a declaration on enhancing security and co-operation in the Mediterranean, decisions on preventing and combating violence against women, and countering the trafficking of children, particularly unaccompanied minors, and a declaration recognizing the contribution of youth to peace and security efforts.

There was also a declaration supporting the continuing progress in the negotiations on the Transdniestrian Settlement Process in the ‘5+2’ Format.

In the politico-military dimension, states agreed to further their support for the OSCE’s work in addressing the threat posed by small arms and light weapons and stockpiles of conventional ammunition.

In the economic and environmental dimension, there was a declaration recognizing the digital economy as a driver for co-operation, security and growth, and a decision on how to develop human capital in the digital era.

The decision on enhancing the safety of journalists became the first decision to be adopted by states in the human dimension since 2014.

Earlier during the Ministerial Council it was agreed that Albania will chair the OSCE in 2020.

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OSCE Ministerial Decision on Safety of Journalists is a major step forward, says OSCE media freedom representative

OSCE - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 20:33

MILAN, 7 December 2018 - The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, welcomes today’s adoption of a decision on the safety of journalists by all 57 participating States at the 2018 OSCE Ministerial Council in Milan.

“At a time when journalists are attacked, threatened and killed for their work, this is a major step forward and a strong signal of support to all journalists exposed to difficult and often dangerous conditions in the OSCE region,” said Désir.

The decision, which recognizes “that the work of journalists can put them, and their family members, at risk of violence, as well as of intimidation and harassment”, calls on the participating States to “take effective measures to end impunity for crimes committed against journalists”.

It also urges “political leaders, public officials and/or authorities to refrain from intimidating, threatening or condoning – and to unequivocally condemn – violence against journalists”.

Désir underlined that the decision is timely and necessary, and strongly reaffirms that “independent media are essential to a free and open society and accountable systems of government”.

The decision also acknowledges the need to “refrain from arbitrary or unlawful interference with journalists’ use of encryption and anonymity technologies and refrain from employing unlawful or arbitrary surveillance techniques.”

Désir highlighted that the decision urges for “the immediate and unconditional release of all journalists who have been arbitrarily arrested or detained, taken hostage or who have become victims of enforced disappearance”.

It recognizes “the importance of investigative journalism…, including in holding public institutions and officials accountable” and “the crucial role of journalists in covering elections”.

It calls on the participating States to “condemn publicly and unequivocally attacks on women journalists in relation to their work, such as sexual harassment, abuse, intimidation, threats and violence, including through digital technologies”.

“This is a clear demand to ensure safety of female journalists online, which is one of my main priorities,” said Désir. "This decision is a result of strong engagement by all 57 OSCE participating States today in Milan. I look forward to working with all governments to ensure effective implementation of this landmark decision adopted today."

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Categories: Central Europe

Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 6 December 2018

OSCE - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 19:54

This report is for the media and the general public.

Summary

  • Compared with the previous reporting period, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in both Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
  • The SMM continued to observe hardships faced by civilians at checkpoints along the contact line and followed up on reports that civilians had remained after closing hours in the area between the checkpoint of the armed formations and the entry-exit checkpoint of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in Maiorsk.
  • It facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to essential civilian infrastructure on both sides of the contact line, as well as to damaged houses in Marinka. The SMM continued to facilitate the operation of the Donetsk Filtration Station.
  • The Mission followed up on reports of vandalism in a Polish Military Cemetery in Lviv.
  • The Mission’s access remained restricted in all three disengagement areas and at a checkpoint near Novolaspa.*

Ceasefire violations[1]

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including, however, more explosions (about 130), compared with the previous reporting period (about 110 explosions). About two-thirds of the explosions were recorded in areas south-east and south-west of Svitlodarsk (government-controlled, 57km north-east of Donetsk).

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including ten explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 630 explosions). The majority of ceasefire violations, including all ten explosions, were recorded at southerly and south-westerly directions of Kriakivka (government-controlled, 38km north-west of Luhansk).

Disengagement areas[2]

Inside the disengagement area near Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Luhansk), at the broken section of the bridge, the SMM saw that a small plank of wood had been nailed down to cover over the hole which had been previously observed on 3 December in one of the wooden ramps (see SMM Daily Report 4 December 2018).

Positioned in areas close to the disengagement area near Zolote (government-controlled, 60km west of Luhansk), the SMM observed a calm situation.

Withdrawal of weapons

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons in implementation of the Memorandum and the Package of Measures and its Addendum.

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside of designated storage sites

Government-controlled areas

6 December

- A surface-to-air missile system (9K35 Strela-10) near Volnovakha (53km south of Donetsk)

Indications of military presence in the security zone[3]

Government-controlled areas

6 December

  • Five infantry fighting vehicles (BMP-1) (four stationary and one heading west) in Muratove (51km north-west of Luhansk)
  • Two armoured personnel carriers (type undetermined) south-west of Artema (26km north of Luhansk)
  • Three armoured reconnaissance vehicles (BRDM-2) near Kamianka (20km north of Donetsk).

Presence of mine hazard signs

On a road leading to the entrance of an abandoned agricultural compound on the northern edge of Syhnalne (non-government-controlled, 23km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM saw for the first time one red mine hazard sign with a skull and crossbones and the inscriptions “Stop, Mines” in Ukrainian and Russian languages. The sign was attached to a chain obstructing passage to the aforementioned compound.

Hardships faced by civilians at checkpoints along the contact line

At the checkpoint of the armed formations south of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, at 10:40, the SMM saw about 500 people queuing to travel toward government-controlled areas and about 40 queuing in the opposite direction. The Mission saw another 120 people queuing at a nearby bus stop. About three hours later, the SMM saw about 600 people queuing to travel towards government-controlled areas and about 400 people queuing in the opposite direction.    

At the entry-exit checkpoint north of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, at 12:05, the SMM observed about 200 people queuing to exit government-controlled areas and about 500 people queuing in the opposite direction. About one hour later, the Mission saw 250 people queuing to exit government-controlled areas and 350 people queuing in the opposite direction. It also saw about 100 people (mostly elderly, mixed gender) queuing in front of a cash machine in an adjacent parking lot. A representative of an international organization told the SMM that they had treated four people for injuries caused by falls due to the slippery surface of the bridge. The SMM observed that the wooden ramps at the broken section of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge remained wet and slippery.

On the evening of 6 December, the SMM followed up on reports that 17 cars with 44 people, including two children, had remained in the area between the checkpoint of the armed formations and the entry-exit checkpoint of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in Maiorsk (government-controlled, 45km north-east of Donetsk), after closing hours. Following the SMM’s facilitation, at about 22:00, a Ukrainian Armed Forces officer to the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) told the SMM that all people had been allowed entry into the entry-exit checkpoint area and, at 00:35, they had been able to continue their journey into government-controlled areas.   

SMM facilitation of repairs to civilian infrastructure

The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repair works to the Petrivske water pumping station near Artema, to water pipelines near Popasna (government-controlled, 69km west of Luhansk) and near Holubivka (formerly Kirovsk, non-government-controlled, 51km west of Luhansk), to power lines in Zolote-4/Rodina (government-controlled, 59km west of Luhansk), as well as to damaged houses in Marinka (government-controlled, 23km south-west of Donetsk) and to the phenol sludge reservoir near Zalizne (formerly Artemove, government-controlled, 42km north-east of Donetsk). The Mission continued to facilitate the operation of the Donetsk Filtration Station.

Reported vandalism to a Polish Military Cemetery in Lviv

In Lviv, the SMM followed up on reports that unknown individuals had vandalized a monument located in the Polish Military Cemetery on the territory of Lychakiv cemetery in the early hours of 5 December. At 33 Mechnykova Street, the Mission saw that plywood boards covering the two Lion statues of the monument were cracked on one side. The director of the cemetery told the SMM that the plywood board was damaged around 02:00 on 5 December. According to the police, criminal proceedings had been initiated under Article 296 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Odessa, Kharkiv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Dnipro, Chernivtsi and Kyiv.

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

The SMM’s monitoring and freedom of movement are restricted by security hazards and threats, including risks posed by mines, unexploded ordnance (UXO) and other impediments – which vary from day to day. The SMM’s mandate provides for safe and secure access throughout Ukraine. All signatories of the Package of Measures have agreed on the need for this safe and secure access, that restriction of the SMM’s freedom of movement constitutes a violation, and on the need for rapid response to these violations. They have also agreed that the JCCC should contribute to such response and co-ordinate mine clearance. Nonetheless, the armed formations in parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions frequently deny the SMM access to areas adjacent to Ukraine’s border outside control of the Government (for example, SMM Daily Report 3 December 2018). The SMM’s operations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions remain restricted following the fatal incident of 23 April 2017 near Pryshyb; these restrictions continued to limit the Mission’s observations.

Denials of access:

-  Two armed members of the armed formations at a checkpoint on the eastern edge of Novolaspa (non-government controlled, 50km south of Donetsk) again denied the SMM access to the village, citing “security risks for the SMM”.

Regular restrictions related to disengagement areas and mines/UXO:

The sides continued to deny the SMM full access to the three disengagement areas, as well as the ability to travel certain roads previously identified as important for effective monitoring by the Mission and for civilians’ movement, through failure to conduct comprehensive clearance of mines and UXO.

[1] For a complete breakdown of ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table. The SMM camera in Hranitne and Krasnohorivka were not operational during the reporting period.

[2] Disengagement is foreseen in the Framework Decision of the Trilateral Contact Group relating to disengagement of forces and hardware of 21 September 2016.

[3] The hardware mentioned in this section is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.

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Categories: Central Europe

Open Data Challenge 2018 concludes in Uzbekistan

OSCE - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 18:52
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An award ceremony marking the completion of the Open Data Challenge 2018, a digital information competition organized by the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Uzbekistan (PCUz) in co-operation with the Ministry for Development of Information Technology and Information of the Republic of Uzbekistan, took place today in Tashkent.

The competition, the fourth of its kind in Uzbekistan, consisted of several events held over the course of four days. It opened with a conference on the importance of open data for the socio-economic development of countries, which familiarized participants with international practices in the field. The conference was followed by a so-called ‘hackaton’ on 1 and 2 December; a multi-day workshop in which teams competed to develop the winning concept for a public, socially significant and innovative application based on data publically available through the Open Data Portal of Uzbekistan. The Open Data Portal is an OSCE-supported portal providing citizens with all means of publically available government data in order to bridge the gap between the state and its citizens and to increase transparency. Today’s ceremony awarded the creators of the best concept the opportunity to participate in the Digital Business World Congress in Madrid in the spring of 2019.

This year’s winning concept, developed by a group of four students from the Tashkent region, consists of an application that can be used to track the quality of mobile Internet in any specific region in Uzbekistan, thus enhancing the access to data in remote areas by allowing consumers to make a more informed decision as to their data provider. Overall, more than 500 people participated in this year’s Challenge, of which around a quarter were women, making it the most successful edition of the competition yet.

The Open Data Challenge 2018 was supported by the PCUz as part of its ongoing efforts to promote transparency and public access to information in Uzbekistan, and in partial fulfillment of its commitments under the project Support Uzbekistan in Improvement of Open Data Management.

Categories: Central Europe

International standards, national legislation for prevention of domestic violence in Belarus discussed at OSCE/ODIHR seminar

OSCE - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 15:14
405659 Belarusian prosecutors participate in the seminar on international standards and national legislation for the prevention of domestic violence. Minsk, 6 December 2018. Public Affairs Unit, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights

International rule of law standards related to the prevention of domestic violence were the topic of a seminar organized on 6 December 2018 in Minsk for participants from across Belarus.

The seminar was organized by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Institute for Re-training and Continuing Education of Judges and Personnel of Prosecutor’s Offices, Courts and Justice Institutions (IRCE) at the Belarusian State University.  It was the fourth in a series of seminars on rule of law issues organized as part of the two-year, European Union-funded project “Promoting Democratization and Human Rights in Belarus”.

The event engaged 31 participants (18 women and 13 men), including prosecutors from across Belarus, in discussions on international standards and good practice examples on preventing and countering domestic violence. The participants also considered good practice for incorporating international standards into national laws, policies and practice.

“Prosecutors play a crucial role in addressing domestic violence,” said Carolyn Hammer, Rule of Law Officer at ODIHR. “Effective investigation and prosecution is fundamental to the rule of law and protection of human rights.”

Vladimir Moroz, the Institute’s Deputy Director, said: “We consider the seminar an important element of the implementation of the National Action Plan for Gender Equality in the Republic of Belarus for the period from 2017 to 2020. The Action Plan draws attention to the need to include prevention of domestic violence in the training programs for law enforcement officers, lawyers, judges and prosecutors. International seminars like this are an integral part of the advanced training system implemented at the Institute.”

The presentations by ODIHR experts “were highly useful for prosecutors from across Belarus,” he said. “Equally important was the participation of national experts because it introduced the participants to the national dimension in applying international standards and to linking the issues under consideration directly to the activities of prosecutors.”

The rule of law-related activities within the ODIHR project include training some 200 legal professionals through thematic seminars and exchange visits on rule of law and other justice-related issues.

Categories: Central Europe

In high-level bilateral meetings in Milan, OSCE PA President urges steps to build confidence, insists on implementation of international agreements

OSCE - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 14:29

MILAN, 7 December 2018 – The escalation of tensions in the Kerch Strait, election observation methodology, counter-terrorism, strengthening the OSCE, confidence-building measures, civil society and democracy were among the topics of discussion over two days of bilateral meetings between the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President and high-level diplomats on the margins of the OSCE Ministerial Council taking place this week in Milan.

PA President George Tsereteli addressed the opening of the Ministerial Council and met with the foreign ministers of Turkey, Russian Federation, Albania, and Moldova and the Head of Delegation from Morocco. He also held a number of informal conversations on the sidelines of the Ministerial Council with ministers and ambassadors, including representatives from Italy, the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Azerbaijan, Montenegro, Sweden and France.

The OSCE PA will always insist on the full implementation of international agreements such as the Helsinki Final Act and the Minsk Agreements, President Tsereteli said to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. In a discussion that focused largely on the crisis over the Kerch Strait, Tsereteli reiterated the statement issued by the PA, which stressed that disputes must be settled by peaceful means so as not to endanger international peace and security, as stated in the Helsinki Final Act.He urged the Russian Federation to release the detained Ukrainian service members, emphasizing that this would be a powerful gesture of goodwill. He also pressed for humanitarian relief and the opening of checkpoints in occupied territories of Georgia.

A meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu focused on Turkey’s relations with the OSCE, including issues such as civil society participation in OSCE meetings and election observation methodology. Tsereteli recalled the OSCE PA’s excellent working relationship with the Turkish government and the recently appointed Turkish delegation to the PA.

He noted the ongoing efforts to overcome critical issues through constructive dialogue. He highlighted the OSCE’s tools that could contribute to increasing confidence, in particular the invitation of international monitors to some of the politically sensitive court trials, including that of Selahattin Demirtaş, a Turkish member of parliament who has been detained since November 2016.

In a meeting with Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati, Tsereteli congratulated Albania on its successful candidacy to assume the OSCE Chairmanship in 2020, offered the Assembly’s support for Tirana’s priorities, including its focus on the Mediterranean and reiterated the Assembly’s readiness to assist with the implementation of internal reforms.

Meeting with Moldovan Foreign Minister Tudor Ulianovschi, Tsereteli stressed that the progress in the Transdniestrian settlement process is setting a positive example for the rest of the OSCE, proving that local ownership and political will can produce results. He also underlined the importance of the upcoming parliamentary elections for democratic consolidation in Moldova, in particular in light of the annulment of the Chisinau local elections in June.

President Tsereteli also spoke with Mounia Boucetta, Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Morocco, about the OSCE PA’s upcoming Autumn Meeting set to take place in Marrakech in October 2019 and welcomed the Moroccan government’s support for this initiative. He stressed importance of enhancing co-operation with the Mediterranean Partners on challenging issues.

Photos from the PA’s participation at the Ministerial Council are available on Flickr.

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Categories: Central Europe

Franco-German roadmap for comprehensive control of small arms and light weapons discussed in side event at OSCE Ministerial Council in Milan

OSCE - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 14:00
405743 Communication and Media Relations Section Giovanni Davoli

The OSCE’s role as a key partner in implementing a new roadmap for controlling small arms and light weapons (SALW) in the Western Balkans was the topic of a side event held on 7 December 2018 during the OSCE Ministerial Council in Milan, Italy.

The roadmap is the core element of a Franco-German initiative for integrated and coordinated action to achieve a sustainable solution to the possession, misuse and trafficking of SALW and their ammunition, which continue to constitute a threat to the citizens of the Western Balkan region.

Building on years of work by national institutions and international organizations including the OSCE, the roadmap sets out a reliable, transparent and trackable process that aims to achieve the control of SALW in the region by 2024.

With seven goals in the areas of legislation, policies, export control, education, collection, physical destruction and stockpile management, 14 key performance indicators, a scoreboard for tracking progress and a yearly review mechanism, the roadmap charts a course that goes beyond the deactivation of SALW to ensure their comprehensive and sustainable control.

High-level participants from Germany, France, Montenegro and Albania as well as the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre and the OSCE Transnational Threats Department stressed the holistic, output-oriented nature of the roadmap. They highlighted its encouragement of both national and regional ownership and commended the co-operative, transparent approach to working with partners such as the OSCE, with due respect to their mandates. They also noted the importance of mainstreaming gender aspects into the work of controlling SALW, as the issue concerns women and men equally.

Marcus Bleinroth, Director of Division, Conventional Disarmament, Preventive Arms Control, German Federal Foreign Office, explained that while in the past the main focus in controlling SALW had been on physical security and stockpile management, this initiative takes a comprehensive approach, addressing the need to strengthen border control to prevent the illegal proliferation of SALW and also the need to enhance the criminal justice response to their illicit trafficking and possession.

Ambassador Jean-Claude Brunet, President of the Third Review Conference of the UN Programme of Action on SALW, drew attention to upcoming activities planned under the Franco-German Initiative, including a the High Level Meeting on the Franco-German Initiative on Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Western Balkans to be held in Paris on 11 December 2018. He stressed the importance of the OSCE’s involvement in the implementation of the roadmap with its current and future projects.

The side event was organized by Germany, France and the OSCE Conflict Prevent Centre’s Forum for Security Co-operation (FSC) Support Section.

On the basis of the OSCE Document on SALW and other OSCE documents, the OSCE provides assistance upon request to participating States with the collection and destruction of SALW and conventional ammunition, helps to improve legislation to effectively control SALW and assists in improving stockpile management. The OSCE also has a funding mechanism, the Comprehensive SALW and Stockpiles of Conventional Ammunition (SCA) Repository Programme, which serves as a funding stream for supporting relevant activities, including in partnership with the Franco-German Initiative.

Categories: Central Europe

Promoting economic connectivity in the OSCE area discussed at side event during the OSCE Ministerial Council in Milan

OSCE - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 13:52
405746 Communication and Media Relations Section Giovanni Davoli

Several foreign ministers, high-level government representatives and experts gathered for a discussion on promoting economic connectivity in the OSCE area on Thursday, 6 December 2018 during the 25th OSCE Ministerial Council in Milan.

In view of the growing global interdependence in the digital era, the need for strengthening economic co-operation as part of a comprehensive approach to promoting international and regional security, stability and prosperity is increasingly urgent, participants agreed. They stressed the continued relevance for participating States of the OSCE Ministerial Council Decision on Strengthening Good Governance and Promoting Connectivity taken in Hamburg in 2016.

The event was organized by the OCEEA and the Republic of Kazakhstan in its capacity as Chair of the OSCE Economic and Environmental Committee.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE helps to form first Inter-confessional Council of Kyrgyzstan

OSCE - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 12:18
405461 Kunduz Rysbek

The OSCE Programme Office in Bishkek supported the conference Strengthening of the Inter-Confessional Dialogue, devoted to the issues of interfaith harmony and tolerance between representatives of various religious organizations of Kyrgyzstan, held on 5 December 2018 in Bishkek.

This Сonference concluded a series of forums held from June to October 2018 across all regions of Kyrgyzstan. The attention of the participants was drawn to potential obstacles and prospects in establishing interfaith dialogue, both at the regional level and nationally. The important role of religious leaders and civil society in the process of building a platform for interfaith dialogue was also highlighted.

“We must maintain democratic principles on religious issues in the country. Religion must remain the free choice of every citizen. There are destructive forces that are trying to shake the religious situation in the country. We should not let these forces influence peaceful co-existence between confessions. Therefore, we will create the Interfaith Council in Kyrgyzstan to strengthen the work of building dialogue and developing relations between representatives of different faiths,” said Zayirbek Ergeshov, Director of the State Commission for Religious Affairs of Kyrgyzstan.

This event was held in the framework of the implementation of the Concept on the State Policy in the Religious Sphere for 2014-2020. It helped to develop new approaches to strengthening interfaith dialogue, principles of respect for various beliefs, human rights and freedoms, religious tolerance, as well as preventing radicalism and extremism.

Pierre von Arx, Head of the OSCE Programme Office in Bishkek reiterated OSCE’s continued support to interfaith dialogue. He commended the conference as it demonstrated how far Kyrgyzstan has come in embracing its multi-faith identity that exists in a secular context. “The OSCE has been supporting an educational pilot project called “Basic History of Religious Culture”, a secondary school course that teaches students the history of world religions. A special mention should be given to the state authorities for making this education mandatory for all schools in 2019.”

The conference resulted in creating the Interfaith Council of Kyrgyzstan – the first independent body that aims to preserve the existing interfaith dialogue and harmony in the country.  

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE training course helps to develop 2019 Action Plan for implementation of Montenegrin National Strategy for Youth

OSCE - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 12:13
405596 Marina Živaljević

A two-day training course on developing the 2019 Action Plan for the Implementation of the Montenegrin National Strategy for Youth concluded on 4 December 2018 in Petrovac. The event was organized by the OSCE Mission to Montenegro and the Directorate for Youth within the Ministry of Sports.

Around 30 participants representing public institutions, local youth offices and NGOs dealing with youth discussed the pace and level of implementation of the National Strategy for Youth 2017-2021 in Montenegro. They also examined the implementation of the Action Plan for 2018 and developed the first draft of the Action Plan for next year based on the results achieved so far in the implementation of the Strategy. Draft 2019 Action Plan, which includes measures with budgetary implications, will be finalized after further consultations between the Ministry of Sports and relevant institutions.

“The importance of youth policy can never be overemphasized, as it seeks to address all issues preventing young people from realizing their full potential,” said Ivana Vujović, National Programme Officer at the OSCE Mission to Montenegro. She recalled that the Mission has a partnership with the Ministry’s Directorate for Youth and Regional Youth Co-operation Office (RYCO) initiative in Montenegro, through which it supports the implementation of the youth policy in the country.

Nenad Koprivica, the General Director for Youth in the Ministry of Sports, stressed the continued engagement of the Ministry in the process of consulting the interested public and preparing strategic documents for young people. He especially thanked the OSCE Mission to Montenegro for the support and very successful co-operation.

This activity is part of the overall support that the Mission provides in the area of youth participation through better positioning and increased co-operation among youth in the region. This support includes assistance to the RYCO initiative and the Directorate for Youth in the Ministry of Sports.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE-supported new irrigation system in southern town of Kara-Suu is launched

OSCE - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 12:08
405464 Kunduz Rysbek

On 4 December 2018, the ceremony of the opening the irrigation system with a total length of 1,373 metres was held in the city of Kara-Suu, southern Kyrgyzstan. The irrigation system provides more than 1,000 households with access to irrigation water. The project was implemented by the Kara-Suu Mayor’s Office and local residents with the support of the OSCE Programme Office in Bishkek (POiB).

Access to irrigation water remains a serious challenge in Kyrgyzstan especially in the southern part of country. With respect to irrigation supplies water management remains a key factor of economic and political security and stability in the country. Tensions and conflicts related to water use between multi-ethnic communities of the Kara-Suu district in southern Kyrgyzstan are common due to constant shortages of irrigation water.

In 2014 in order to prevent water-related conflicts and tensions in Kara-Suu, the POiB provided assistance to the Kara-Suu Mayor’s Office to rehabilitate three kilometres of the irrigation canal within the first phase of POiB’s project “Creating Conditions for Sustainable Development and Environmental Security in Kyrgyzstan”.

To this end, the POiB provided the Kara-Suu Mayor’s Office with reinforced concrete flumes to rehabilitate the canal. The importance of this result was noted by the State administration of Kara-Suu district, local residents and the Plenipotentiary Representative Office of the Kyrgyz Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the south of Kyrgyzstan. The Mayor of Kara-Suu said  that it solved several critical problems for the city’s residents.

This year marked the conclusion of the second phase of the project, which not only contributes to conflict prevention, but also improves the economic conditions of the local residents through provision of uninterrupted water supply for agricultural use. 
Categories: Central Europe

OSCE helps Kyrgyzstan to develop legal framework for Advance Passenger Information (API) system

OSCE - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 11:38
405614 Kunduz Rysbek

On 30 November, the OSCE Programme Office in Bishkek in partnership with the State Committee for National Security (SCNS) held a round table on developing a legal framework for the introduction of an Advance Passenger Information (API) system in Kyrgyzstan.  

An API system is an electronic communication system that collects biographical information about passengers and flight details provided by an aircraft operator. The airline’s communications networks then transmit this data to the border control authorities in the destination country or in the country of origin before the flight departs or arrives at the destination airport. Due to this, the customs and border guards and other authorized bodies will be able to take the necessary response measures in relation to persons of interest in advance, while other passengers undergo less stringent controls. A legal framework for data capture, transfer and storage is needed for airlines to be able to obtain API data from passengers and to send it to the government authorities in the country. All legal provisions should comply with existing international standards.

The roundtable discussion brought together legal experts of the SCNS, State Border Service, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Finance, State Registration Service and others to discuss ways of smooth and swift introduction of the API system. The experts stressed the need to develop legislation on API before starting the API implementation process, and recommended to set up a working group on developing relevant laws and regulations.
Categories: Central Europe

International election observers in Yerevan to hold press conference on Monday

OSCE - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 09:40

YEREVAN, 7 December 2018 – The international observers for the early parliamentary elections in Armenia will present their preliminary post-election statement at a news conference on Monday, 10 December, in Yerevan.

The mission is a joint undertaking of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the European Parliament (EP).

The statement will be delivered by Peter Osusky, Special Co-ordinator and leader of the short-term OSCE observer mission, followed by Aleksander Pociej, Head of the PACE delegation, Nahima Lanjri, Head of the OSCE PA delegation, Heidi Hautala, Head of the EP delegation, and Ambassador Urszula Gacek, Head of the ODIHR election observation mission.

The international election observation mission comprises some 320 observers from 39 countries, including 246 long-term and short-term observers deployed by ODIHR, 50 parliamentarians and staff from the OSCE PA, 13 from PACE and 10 from the EP.

Journalists are invited to attend the press conference on Monday, 10 December, at 14:30 in the Milano Hall of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Grigor Lusavorich St. 4/2, Yerevan.

Live stream of the press conference will be available at: www.facebook.com/osce.odihr and www.oscepa.org.

For further information, contact:

Andreas Baker, OSCE PA, +45 60 10 81 26 or +374 (0)99 903 713, andreas@oscepa.dk

Thomas Rymer, OSCE/ODIHR, +374 (0)99 903 832 or +48 609 522 266, thomas.rymer@odihr.pl

Bogdan Torcatoriu, PACE, +374 (0)44 999 075 or +33 6 50 39 29 40, bogdan.torcatoriu@coe.int               

Julien Crampes, EP, +374 (0)43 062 570, julien.crampes@ep.europa.eu

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Categories: Central Europe

Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 5 December 2018

OSCE - Thu, 12/06/2018 - 17:13

This report is for the media and the general public.

Summary

Compared with the previous reporting period, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and more in Luhansk region.

The Mission observed weapons in violation of withdrawal lines on both sides of the contact line.

The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repairs to essential civilian infrastructure as well as damaged houses. It continued to facilitate the operation of the Donetsk Filtration Station.

The SMM monitored adherence to the ceasefire to facilitate the transfer of human remains across the bridge in Shchastia.

The Mission’s access remained restricted in all three disengagement areas. It was also restricted in the Trudivski area of Donetsk city’s Petrovskyi district and at a checkpoint near Zaichenko.*

Ceasefire violations[1]

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including about 110 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 450 explosions). The majority of ceasefire violations were recorded in areas south-west of Svitlodarsk (government-controlled, 57km north-east of Donetsk) and near Kamianka (government-controlled, 20km north of Donetsk).

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations, including about 630 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 290 explosions). The majority of ceasefire violations were recorded in areas north-west and west of Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, non-government-controlled, 50km west of Luhansk), including about 410 explosions, and near the disengagement area close to Zolote (government-controlled, 60km west of Luhansk), including about 150 explosions.

Disengagement areas[2]

On the evening of 4 December, while on the eastern edge of Stanytsia Luhanska (government-controlled, 16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM heard 20 undetermined explosions and about 15 bursts and shots of small-arms fire, all at an assessed range of 3-5km south-west (assessed as outside the disengagement area).

During the day on 5 December, positioned on the eastern edge of Zolote-2/Karbonit (government-controlled, 62km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard about 25 undetermined explosions and 25 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all at an assessed range of 1-5km east (assessed as outside the Zolote disengagement area). On the same day, positioned in Pervomaisk (non-government-controlled, 58km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard about 120 undetermined explosions and 135 bursts of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all at an assessed range of 3-5km north-north-east (unable to assess whether inside or outside the disengagement area). Positioned on the western edge of Pervomaisk, the SMM heard about 30 undetermined explosions and about 20 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all at an assessed range of 5-7km north (assessed as outside the disengagement area).

During the day on 5 December, positioned about 2km north of Petrivske (non-government-controlled, 41km south of Donetsk), the SMM heard ten bursts of small-arms fire at an assessed range of 2-3km south (unable to assess whether inside or outside the disengagement area).  

Withdrawal of weapons

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons in implementation of the Memorandum and the Package of Measures and its Addendum.

In violation of the withdrawal lines

Government-controlled areas

4 December

  • An SMM mini-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted:
    • a surface-to-air missile system (9K33 Osa) near Klynove (68km north-east of Donetsk). 

Non-government-controlled areas

4 December

  • An SMM mini-UAV spotted:
    • a mortar (2B-11 Sani, 120mm) near Dovhe (22km north-west of Luhansk);
    • a tank (T-64) near Khoroshe (36km west of Luhansk); and
    • five tanks (four T-72 and one probable T-72) near Novoselivka (16km west of Luhansk).

5 December

  • An SMM mini-UAV spotted:
    • a surface-to-air missile system (9K33) near Zaichenko (26km north-east of Mariupol), in a zone within which deployment of heavy armaments and military equipment is further proscribed according to Point 5 of the Memorandum of 19 September 2014.

Beyond the withdrawal lines but outside of designated storage sites

Government-controlled areas

4 December

  • An SMM mini-UAV spotted:
    • nine tanks (T-64B) on a pier in the port of Mariupol.

 

Non-government-controlled areas

4 December

  • An SMM mini-UAV spotted:
    • 21 tanks (16 T-72 and five T-64) in a training area near Manuilivka (65km east of Donetsk).

Weapons that the SMM was unable to verify as withdrawn:[3]

Weapons storage sites beyond the respective withdrawal lines in government-controlled areas of Donetsk region:*

5 December

  • Three mortars (2B11 Sani, 120mm) were present and
  • 23 self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm),13 towed howitzers (seven 2A65 Msta-B, 152mm and six D-30 Lyagushka, 122mm), 13 anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm), and 28 mortars (15 2B11, 12 M-120 Molot, 120mm and one BM-37, 82mm) remained missing.

Weapons verified as withdrawn:

At a permanent storage site beyond the respective withdrawal lines in a non-government-controlled area of Luhansk region

5 December

  • A tank (T-64) remained missing.  

Indications of military and military-type presence in the security zone[4]

Government-controlled areas

5 December

  • an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-2) in Popasna (69km west of Luhansk)
  • an armoured personnel carrier (APC) (BTR-70) in Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk)
  • five APCs (BTR-80) near Pavlopil (26km north-east of Mariupol)
  • five IFVs (BMP variant) and an armoured reconnaissance vehicle (BRDM-1) near Trudivske (47km south of Donetsk)

Non-government-controlled areas

4 December

  • An SMM mini-UAV spotted:
    • four IFVs (BMP-1), an APC (MT-LB), an armoured command vehicle (BMP-1 KSh), an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23, 23mm) and an armoured combat vehicle (type undetermined) near Dovhe and
    • an APC (BTR-80) and a trench digger (TMK-2) near Khoroshe.

5 December

  • An SMM mini-UAV spotted:
    • two IFVs (BMP-2) and three APCs (one MT-LB with an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) and two BTR-80) in Luhansk city. 

Presence of mine hazard signs

On the northern edge of Luhanske (non-government-controlled, 15km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM saw for the first time three mine hazard signs (red and white squares with “Danger, mines” written on them in Russian) attached to barbed wire, which stretched across a road into an adjacent field. It also saw for the first time two mine hazard signs in a field next to a road leading from Luhanske to Syhnalne (non-government-controlled, 23km south-west of Donetsk): one was a red and white square with “Mines” written on it in Russian and the other one was a wooden square with “Mines” painted on it in Russian. The SMM saw for the first time at least ten mine hazard signs, white squares with “Mines” written on them in Russian in fields on both sides of a road leading to the Cargill plant about 2km north-east of Kreminets (non-government-controlled, 16km south-west of Donetsk). 

SMM facilitation of repairs to civilian infrastructure

The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to the ceasefire to enable repair works to the Petrivske water pumping station near Artema (government-controlled, 26km north of Luhansk), to a water pipeline near Popasna, to water pipelines near Zaitseve (50km north-east of Donetsk), to power lines in Zolote-4/Rodina (government-controlled, 59km west of Luhansk), to damaged houses in Marinka (government-controlled, 23km south-west of Donetsk), as well as to the Marinka Gas Distribution Station in Krasnohorivka (government-controlled, 21km west of Donetsk). The Mission continued to facilitate the operation of the Donetsk Filtration Station.

SMM facilitation of transfer of human remains across the bridge in Shchastia

The SMM monitored adherence to the ceasefire to facilitate the transfer of human remains from non-government- to government-controlled areas of Luhansk region across the bridge in Shchastia (government-controlled, 20km north of Luhansk).

The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Kharkiv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Dnipro, Chernivtsi and Kyiv.

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

The SMM’s monitoring and freedom of movement are restricted by security hazards and threats, including risks posed by mines, unexploded ordnance (UXO) and other impediments – which vary from day to day. The SMM’s mandate provides for safe and secure access throughout Ukraine. All signatories of the Package of Measures have agreed on the need for this safe and secure access, that restriction of the SMM’s freedom of movement constitutes a violation, and on the need for rapid response to these violations. They have also agreed that the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) should contribute to such response and co-ordinate mine clearance. Nonetheless, the armed formations in parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions frequently deny the SMM access to areas adjacent to Ukraine’s border outside control of the Government (for example, see SMM Daily Report 3 December 2018). The SMM’s operations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions remain restricted following the fatal incident of 23 April 2017 near Pryshyb; these restrictions continued to limit the Mission’s observations.

Denials of access:

  • An armed member of the armed formations denied the SMM passage through a checkpoint in the Trudivski area of Donetsk city’s Petrovskyi district, citing instructions from his “superior”.
  • Two armed members of the armed formations denied the SMM passage through a checkpoint north of Zaichenko, preventing the SMM from travelling west towards Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, non-government-controlled, 23km north-east of Mariupol) and south towards Sakhanka (non-government-controlled, 24km north-east of Mariupol).  

Regular restrictions related to disengagement areas and mines/UXO:

The sides continued to deny the SMM full access to the three disengagement areas, as well as the ability to travel certain roads previously identified as important for effective monitoring by the Mission and for civilians’ movement, through failure to conduct comprehensive clearance of mines and UXO.

[1] For a complete breakdown of ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table. The SMM camera in Hranitne was not operational during the reporting period.

[2] Disengagement is foreseen in the Framework Decision of the Trilateral Contact Group relating to disengagement of forces and hardware of 21 September 2016.

[3] The SMM observed weapons that could not be verified as withdrawn, as their storage did not comply with the criteria set out in the 16 October 2015 notification from the SMM to the signatories of the Package of Measures on effective monitoring and verification of the withdrawal of heavy weapons.

[4] The hardware mentioned in this section is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.

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Categories: Central Europe

Strong OSCE needed to navigate uncertain waters, OSCE PA President Tsereteli says at opening of Ministerial Council in Milan

OSCE - Thu, 12/06/2018 - 15:37

MILAN, 6 December 2018 – With East-West relations at historic lows, a strong OSCE is needed to serve as a forum for real confidence-building, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President George Tsereteli (MP, Georgia) said today at the 25th OSCE Ministerial Council in Milan.

Addressing the opening session, the PA President stressed that it is up to governments to strengthen the OSCE, to pursue meaningful dialogue, and to demonstrate good faith in implementing commitments.

“What the OSCE needs from all of us is political support and the necessary resources to carry out its mandate,” Tsereteli said. “We in the Parliamentary Assembly are always happy to discuss the challenges of our region, to develop common approaches that deliver results, and to explore ways to strengthen this unique organization.”

He welcomed the call by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev for an OSCE summit in 2020 and recalled the words of the recently deceased U.S. President George Bush, who stated in 1989: “We can realize a lasting peace and transform the East-West relationship to one of enduring co-operation.”

“George Bush and other leaders who forged this organization understood that with Europe entering uncertain waters, the OSCE was ideally suited to help countries navigate,” Tsereteli said. “The vision that they had was to make the OSCE part of everyday politics. They wanted an active, influential organization, and saw the value of a robust parliamentary dimension to this organization.”

Tsereteli regretted that instead of focusing on resetting relations in Milan, much of the focus is instead on the escalation of tensions in the Kerch Strait between the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

“It is deeply worrying to hear news about shootings and blockades, instead of receiving information about successful efforts to end this grave European crisis,” he said.

The President also cited economic and environmental challenges, including climate change, and declining human rights standards as threats to comprehensive security. He noted that countries are abandoning international agreements that have served as cornerstones of stability and embarking on new arms races, highlighting that the OSCE’s “first priority is always the pursuit of peace, security and stability.”

He urged adjustments to the consensus rule and a strong OSCE presence in the field in order to increase the organization’s effectiveness.

Also speaking at the opening session today were OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Enzo Moavero Milanesi and OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger.

On Wednesday, the OSCE PA’s Bureau met for discussions on OSCE-related work. Bureau members heard from President Tsereteli, Treasurer Doris Barnett (MP, Germany), Secretary General Roberto Montella, and Deputy Foreign Minister Guglielmo Picchi, representing the Italian OSCE Chairmanship, who expressed appreciation for the added value of the OSCE’s parliamentary dimension.

Discussion in the Bureau meeting focused on the escalation of tensions between the Russian Federation and Ukraine in the Kerch Strait. Bureau members expressed concern over the situation and emphasized the need for restraint.

Tsereteli will be holding a series of bilateral meetings on the margins of the Ministerial Council, including with the delegations of the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

For President Tsereteli’s full remarks, please click here.

Photos from the OSCE PA’s participation at the Ministerial Council are available on Flickr.

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Categories: Central Europe

Students and parents demand quality and inclusive education, participants at OSCE-supported conference in Sarajevo conclude

OSCE - Thu, 12/06/2018 - 15:15
405485 Željka Šulc

Newly elected education authorities should focus on quality inclusive education dedicated to strengthening students’ skills and preparing them for a prosperous future, concluded participants at a conference on 6 December 2018 in Sarajevo. The event, titled #SviMožemoBolje, was organized by the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).

The conference gathered over 50 students and parents from all over BiH. They learned about positive initiatives and examples from their peers and shared lessons learned. They also conveyed their message about the importance of inclusive education to the newly elected education authorities in BiH.

“School should be a learning and growing community that brings out the best in all students and includes active engagement by students, parents, teachers, the school management, the local community and the responsible authorities. Considering all of this, we must know first our rights and obligations, and, then we can act with full responsibility for better education in BiH,” said Bruce G. Berton, Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The OSCE Mission to BiH will continue to advocate at the highest level for respect for human rights, including the right to education free from all forms of discrimination, in line with BiH’s OSCE commitments.

Categories: Central Europe

Joint Statement by the Heads of Delegation of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair Countries, Armenia, and Azerbaijan

OSCE - Thu, 12/06/2018 - 13:55

MILAN, Italy, 6 December 2018 - On the occasion of the OSCE Ministerial Council Meeting in Milan, the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries (the Russian Federation, the United States of America, and France) and the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Elmar Mammadyarov and Acting Foreign Minister of Armenia Zohrab Mnatsakanyan agreed to continue working towards a just and lasting peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The Co-Chair countries welcomed the significant decrease in ceasefire violations and reported casualties following the conversation of the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan on the margins of the Commonwealth of Independent States’ summit in Dushanbe in September.  They appealed to the sides to continue implementing the understandings reached there and to take concrete measures to prepare their populations for peace.  The Co-Chair countries expressed hope that an intensive results-oriented high-level dialogue between the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia to promote a just and lasting settlement of the conflict can resume in the near future.

The Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan and the Acting Foreign Minister of Armenia reaffirmed their commitment to work intensively to promote a peaceful resolution of the conflict and to further reduce tensions.  They agreed to meet again in early 2019 under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs for this purpose and in order to facilitate high-level talks.  They recognized the strong engagement and good-faith mediation efforts rendered by the Co-Chair countries, as well as the activities of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office.

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Categories: Central Europe

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