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OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media concludes visit to European Institutions and NATO

OSCE - Fri, 03/08/2024 - 11:42

BRUSSELS, 8 March 2024 – Teresa Ribeiro, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media (RFoM), concluded a three-day visit to Brussels. Her itinerary included high-level meetings with Commissioners of the European Union (EU), the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU, the European External Actions Service (EEAS), NATO and representatives from civil society.

During her visit, Ribeiro engaged in discussions with European Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová; the Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi; EEAS Managing Director Michael Siebert; and the Permanent Representative of Belgium to the EU, Willem van de Voorde. Their discussions centred around the pressing challenges to media freedom across EU Member States and the broader OSCE region. Topics included recent regulatory changes impacting the media and information landscape, such as the Media Freedom Act, the Digital Services Act, the Anti-SLAPP Directive, and the AI Act. Ribeiro underscored the importance of media freedom in maintaining security, a sentiment reiterated in discussions with NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy, Carmen Romero.

Throughout the meetings, there was a focus on exploring opportunities to enhance co-operation between the OSCE and EU to promote independent and pluralistic media, ensure the safety of journalists, and to foster healthier information spaces.

Ribeiro also participated in the "Women in Public Life" Conference, hosted by Jourová, ahead of International Women’s Day 2024. Alongside fellow panelists Maria Ressa, Matthew Caruana Galizia and others, she emphasized the need to address gender-based violence against journalists to safeguard democracy's core principles of pluralism.

Prior to her visit, Ribeiro met with the Chair of the European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services (ERGA). Shortly, she will be meeting with the EU Special Representative on Human Rights and the newly appointed Director of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA). These engagements also underline a concerted effort to address pressing issues surrounding media freedom and fundamental rights within the European context.

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

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Media Freedom Representative deeply concerned about ongoing harassment of media workers in Azerbaijan

OSCE - Thu, 03/07/2024 - 16:57

VIENNA, 7 March 2024 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Teresa Ribeiro, has expressed grave concern after the detention of 14 staff members from the independent online media outlet, Toplum TV, yesterday.

Reports indicate that on 6 March, police conducted a search at Toplum TV's editorial office on unspecified grounds, seizing equipment, sealing the media platform's premises and detaining 14 employees. While most were released from police custody in Baku by midnight, at least three remain detained and face allegations of smuggling. Furthermore, on the same day, unauthorized renaming of Toplum TV's YouTube account and the disappearance of video records were reported.

"The repeated imposition of severe measures against media personnel in Azerbaijan is deeply troubling," stated Ribeiro. "Journalists must be able to carry out their work without fear of reprisal." She highlighted these events in the context of recent arrests of journalists from the Abzas Media platform, as well as Kanal 13 and Kanal 11 online media channels, which she previously raised with the Azerbaijani authorities.

"I call on authorities to release all detained media workers. All OSCE participating States committed themselves, including through the 2018 Ministerial Council Decision on the Safety of Journalists, to fostering a safe working environment and ensuring the protection of journalists," emphasized Ribeiro.

Ministerial Council DECISION No. 3/18 SAFETY OF JOURNALISTS: MC.DEC/3/18 (

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

Categories: Central Europe

Fostering dialogue between Roma civil society and Ukrainian government discussed in Warsaw

OSCE - Thu, 03/07/2024 - 14:57
564278 Representatives of Ukrainian Roma civil society, national authorities and international experts discussed ways to tackle war-related challenges facing Roma communities at a conference hosted by ODIHR in Warsaw. 7 March 2023. Public Affairs Unit, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Katya Andrusz

Engaging civil society and the Ukrainian government in a constructive dialogue to tackle the issues reported by Roma over the past two years of war was the focus of discussions hosted this week in Warsaw by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

Following a workshop on 6 March that brought together Roma civil society representatives and human rights defenders to map out war-related challenges experienced by Ukrainian Roma, the Roma activists joined state representatives and international experts for a conference the next day, to discuss co-operation to ensure better protection for Ukrainian Roma. ODIHR organized both events together with the Council of Europe Office in Ukraine, while conference organizers also included the State Service of Ukraine for Ethnic Affairs and Freedom of Conscience and the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights.

The challenges facing Roma, including forced displacement, prejudice and socio-economic difficulties, continue to raise serious concerns, and protecting their human rights must be a priority, participants said. State efforts should be supported by civil society as well as local and international partners to develop policies that help improve the lives of Roma.

“This conference is a well-suited and timely platform provided by ODIHR to take stock of the human rights situation of Ukrainian Roma affected by Russia’s war against Ukraine,” said Ihor Lossovskyi, Deputy Head of the State Service of Ukraine for Ethnic Affairs and Freedom of Conscience. “The challenges are extremely complex and in order to address them, we need to join efforts with civil society and partners for co-operation and work together to find solutions.” 

Mykhailo Spasov, representing the Ukrainian Ombuds Office, emphasised the necessity of safeguarding the rights of Roma without any discrimination. “This group of population continues to experience particular challenges linked to prejudice,” he said at the conference. “Today’s event allows us to identify appropriate ways to address these issues.”  

“Roma people affected by forced displacement should be provided equal access to essential services,” said Rada Kalandiia, manager of the Romodrom Integration Centre in Mukachevo, western Ukraine. “Besides, the war has exacerbated the already difficult socio-economic situation of Roma. The authorities need to work together with civil society to better tackle these issues.”

ODIHR has a mandate to facilitate dialogue among OSCE participating States and civil society to ensure protection for Roma communities at risk, in line with the 2003 Action Plan on Improving the Situation of Roma and Sinti within the OSCE Area. Since February 2022, ODIHR has been providing support to Ukraine, including by conducting human rights monitoring of displaced Roma, including women, in Ukraine and neighbouring countries. The Office also invested efforts to help build the capacity of Roma and pro-Roma human rights defenders, and facilitated Roma participation in OSCE human dimension events.

Categories: Central Europe

Advanced crime analysis: OSCE supports Albanian State Police analysts

OSCE - Thu, 03/07/2024 - 14:27

The OSCE Transnational Threats Department and the OSCE Presence in Albania provided the Albanian State Police with additional crime analysis software licences and conducted an advanced training programme in Tirana, Albania, from 26 February to 8 March 2024. Building on the previous introductory training programme held in December 2023, this initiative was tailored for 40 junior analysts from the Intelligence and Criminal Archives Directorate of the Albanian State Police.

Expanding on the fundamentals of intelligence-led policing and crime analysis, participants delved into strategic risk assessment and advanced crime analysis. This advanced programme equipped participants with specialized analytical skills critical to their roles and focused on the practical application of a wide range of analytical tools.

“This advanced training programme marks a significant milestone in the ongoing co-operation between the OSCE and the Albanian State Police,” said Neritan Nallbati, Director of the Criminal Police Department. “It not only reinforces the foundation laid by previous capacity-building efforts, but also provides the Albanian State Police with critical software tools, including i2 Analyst's Notebook licenses. These licenses will enable analysts to apply their newly acquired skills in practice, further improving operational efficiency and effectiveness.”

This multi-stage initiative aligns with the recent restructuring of the Albanian State Police Intelligence and Criminal Archives Directorate. The restructuring resulted in the creation of an information analysis sector operating at the national and local levels, consisting of junior analysts who required specialized training.

This activity is part of the OSCE extra-budgetary project "Building intelligence-led policing capacities at regional and national levels in the OSCE area", funded by Germany.

Categories: Central Europe

For better policing: Regional conference to advance gender equality in law enforcement

OSCE - Thu, 03/07/2024 - 11:43

SKOPJE, 7 March 2024 – Gender and security will take centre stage at a conference hosted by the OSCE Mission to Skopje and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in Skopje on 7 and 8 March. The conference brings together law enforcement agencies from the region to exchange experiences and best practices in achieving gender equality within law enforcement.

“North Macedonia has introduced a very successful Gender Mentoring Programme with our support,” said Ambassador Kilian Wahl, Head of the OSCE Mission to Skopje. “Since 2018, this programme has led to an 18% increase in women in senior management positions in the police force. We strongly believe this success should be replicated elsewhere.”

“Several studies show that women play an important role in building a stable and democratic society. With greater involvement of women in the police force at all levels, the functioning of the institution as a whole will improve. In this manner, internal cohesion and the security institutions’ capacity is strengthened,” said President Stevo Pendarovski while addressing the conference.

“Fortunately, we're not starting from scratch. The OSCE Mission to Skopje provides support through the Gender Mentoring Programme, which is already yielding results and brings changes to the institutional culture of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. But this program should not be just a one-time activity, but part of the standard institutional training in the Ministry,” he added.

In his address, Minister of Internal Affairs Panche Toshkovski welcomed the efforts of the OSCE Mission to raise public awareness about the gap that “still exists between men and women in the security professions, and the commitments undertaken to overcome this problem.”

“The struggle to empower female police officers continues. Our colleagues lead that fight precisely through continuous development and improvement of their knowledge in order to make women in the police force more visible, and in particular through the OSCE Mission-supported Gender Mentoring Programme,” said Minister Toshkovski. “The programme has trained more than 150 police officers in various professional skills, thereby raising awareness for the issue of gender diversity in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and of the equal involvement of women in the police service.”

The Director of OSCE/ODIHR, Matteo Mecacci, said that the security sector can only respond to diverse security needs of societies when it ensures gender equality within its own institutions through an inclusive working environment in which diversity is welcome.

“Law enforcement institutions must strive to become gender equality employers and this means fostering diversity in the workforce and making sure that all staff, regardless of their gender, enjoy the same opportunities and benefits, and are meaningfully included in the work of the institutions themselves. However, despite the growing number of female officers, present in public security institutions, women remain vastly underrepresented in this sector, in particular at the senior level,” said Mecacci.

The participants, including representatives from North Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Kosovo, demonstrated a strong commitment to continuing the progress toward gender equality in law enforcement, recognizing the importance of collaboration, training, and institutional support.

Categories: Central Europe

Water, Women, and Security: OSCE co-hosts “Women in Water Diplomacy Global Network Forum” in Vienna

OSCE - Thu, 03/07/2024 - 09:44
564305 "Women, Water Management and Conflict Prevention — Phase III" Women in Water Management in Central Asia and Afghanistan

Addressing the need for women’s empowerment in the water sector, the “Women in Water Diplomacy Global Network Forum” took place in Vienna from 4 to 7 March.

The event, which gathered more than 80 water management experts and networks from across the globe, provided a platform for exchange on best practices and experiences on gender mainstreaming and addressing strategic challenges related to water management and security among women water professionals from around the world.

“Despite evidence that women’s engagement in the water sector is very effective, a gender gap still persists,” said OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid as part of her opening remarks. “We must ensure that the water sector becomes more gender aware and that women are given the necessary skills and tools they need to advance their careers in this sector.”

The Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities co-organized the Global Network Forum in partnership with the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC) and the Environment Law Institute (ELI).

Alongside water management experts, global networks including the OSCE-SIWI-CAREC Women in Water Management in Central Asia and Afghanistan Network, the Women-in-the-Nile Network and other counterparts from Africa, North America and South America, joined the event.

“I am particularly proud that the Women in Water Management Network in Central Asia and Afghanistan now represents a best practice and a unique opportunity for all of us to engage in open discussions to learn from each other and exchange on current challenges in the water sector,” said Ambassador Bakyt Dzhusupov, Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities.

Key highlights of the Forum include:

  • Identifying synergies, networking and cooperation opportunities for water professionals in the context of peace building and security
  • Addressing inclusive water governance
  • Anticipating challenges, taking a systemic perspective and investing in the next generation of water diplomats

The Women in Water Diplomacy Global Network Forum aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 5 (Gender Equality) and Goal 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation). Building on the collective expertise and collaboration of women in the water sector, the event has the potential to make a tangible impact on inclusive forward-looking water governance and contribute to the Water Action Agenda derived from the UN 2023 Water Conference.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Chair-in-Office concludes Council of Europe visit

OSCE - Wed, 03/06/2024 - 17:12

STRASBOURG, 6 March 2024 - The Chair-in-Office of the Organization for Co-operation and Security in Europe (OSCE), Minister of Foreign and European Affairs and Trade of Malta, Ian Borg, concluded a productive visit to the Council of Europe (CoE) today. He called both the OSCE and the CoE “beacons of stability and hope”. The visit allowed him to provide an overview of Malta’s key priorities during its Chairpersonship of the OSCE for the year 2024.

Minister Borg reiterated Malta’s unwavering commitment to uphold and safeguard the principles enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act and the Charter of Paris. “These commitments and shared obligations are not optional, but integral to the functioning of the OSCE”, Minister Borg said.

Under the motto “Strengthening Resilience, Enhancing Security”, Malta’s OSCE Chairpersonship aims to bolster the organisation’s capabilities and leverage its unique position to address contemporary challenges to the region’s security.

Chair-in-Office Borg noted both the OSCE and the CoE have several goals in common, promoting regional security and stability on the basis of shared values and commitments towards human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. Minister Borg emphasized the importance of fostering collaboration between the OSCE and the Council of Europe, particularly as Malta gears up for its CoE Presidency from May to November of 2025.

He noted, “Our focus in the OSCE on areas such as media literacy, gender-based violence, human trafficking, youth engagement, and the safety of journalists not only reflects our commitment to these pressing issues, but also allows us to strengthen co-operation and dialogue between the OSCE and the CoE on several priority themes that are directly relevant to both organisations”. 

When addressing the Committee of Ministers’ Deputies of the CoE, Minister Borg underscored the critical role of both organizations in navigating the complexities of the current security landscape. The Chair-in-Office noted “in this challenging period, the importance of our organizations is most pronounced. Never before has the need for our collective efforts been so urgent. In the face of adversity, our organizations stand as beacons of stability and hope. Our shared mission takes on new significance as we confront the pressing issues of our time.”

Chair-in-Office Minister Borg held meetings with the Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić, the Liechtenstein Chair of the Committee of Ministers, HE Domenik Wagner, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Mr Theodoros Rousopoulos together with the Secretary General of the PACE, Despina Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis.

Categories: Central Europe

Application of Election Technologies and Improvement of Understanding of Election Processes, in focus of CEC Representatives' Study Visit to Partners in Albania

OSCE - Wed, 03/06/2024 - 13:54
564128 Željka Šulc

From 3 to 6 March 2024, the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) organized a study visit for representatives of the BiH Central Election Commission to the Central Election Commission of Albania. This visit provides insights into the application of election technologies and electoral processes. Albania has successfully integrated new election technologies into its systems for number of years.

Ilirjan Celibashi, State Election Commissioner of the Republic of Albania, emphasized the importance of increased communication and exchange of good practices. "The study visit of our Bosnian and Herzegovinian colleagues presents an opportunity to foster regional communication and connect the Election Commission of Albania with other Election Commissions in the region. Regional cooperation is vital to address common challenges and ensure mutual support. Therefore, establishing a regular platform for the exchange of information and experiences can foster a robust and professional network."

Irena Hadžiabdić, President of the BiH Central Election Commission, said: "Amidst discussions on electoral reform and the upcoming pilot project for the use of electoral technologies in the next elections, the experiences of other countries, particularly the lessons learned from Albania, are invaluable. We extend our sincere gratitude to the OSCE Mission to BiH and the Election Commission of Albania for organizing this study visit."

The study visits to the Central Electoral Commission of Albania featured presentations on the experiences of electoral implementation bodies and other institutions involved in the political/legislative processes preceding the pilot project implementation. Topics included procurement modalities, staff training, data transfer, cyber security, and other issues pertaining to the introduction of election technologies

“As we navigate the complexities of electoral processes, it's imperative that we remain open to learning from the experiences of others. By drawing insights from diverse perspectives, we can fortify our efforts towards meaningful election reform,” said Ahmed Rifatbegović, National Political Officer at the OSCE Mission to BiH. “Embracing reform not only strengthens the integrity of our democratic institutions but also reinforces public trust in the electoral system.”

Participants also had the opportunity to share experiences with representatives from the Central Election Commission, the Agency for the Protection of Personal Data and the Agency for Identification Documents, Records and Data Exchange.

This study visit is part of the OSCE Mission to BiH's broader project, "Improving the Integrity of Electoral Processes in 2024 and 2026 in accordance with the recommendations of the ODIHR and international standards." This project is implemented with the support of the Governments of the Kingdom of Norway, United Kingdom, USA, and Germany.

Categories: Central Europe

Now is the time for electoral reform in Albania, says head of international human rights office ODIHR

OSCE - Tue, 03/05/2024 - 17:37

TIRANA, 5 March 2023 – While the willingness of the Albanian authorities to renew their commitment to electoral reforms ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections is to be welcomed, the national authorities need to make use of the current opportunities to finalise and implement them, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) said today.

“It is encouraging to see the progress Albania has made in many areas, and how open the authorities are to engage with ODIHR’s recommendations,” said ODIHR Director Matteo Mecacci. “But unfortunately, we have not seen any headway on the legal reforms needed to address our recommendations. Now is the time to take action, prior to next year’s elections.”

ODIHR has made a number of recommendations following recent elections to improve the democratic process. A number of these require changes both in legislation and in implementation. Priority recommendations emphasise the need to further strengthen the effectiveness of the election administration, campaign finance oversight, and media regulation as well as take additional measures against misuse of public resources and other violations.

ODIHR stands ready to support the authorities and assist the parliamentary ad-hoc committee on electoral reform in any way possible within its mandate. The Office also offers to provide an in-depth legal analysis of the election code or any proposed changes to relevant legislation.

During his two-day visit to Tirana this week, ODIHR’s Director met with President Bajram Begaj, Prime Minister Edi Rama, Interior Minister Taulant Balla, Foreign Affairs Minister Igli Hasani, Justice Minister Ulsi Manja, and Central Election Commissioner Ilirjan Celibashi, as well as members of the parliamentary opposition. Discussions focused on support ODIHR can offer in the area of elections as well as many other areas of its mandate, to help strengthen Albania’s democratic institutions. A fruitful discussion with the OSCE Presence in Albania centred on cooperation with ODIHR to work further on human rights issues in the country.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE concludes Explosive Ordnance Disposal Level 3 course for specialists from Central Asia and Serbia

OSCE - Tue, 03/05/2024 - 07:39
563902 Munira Shoinbekova, OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe

On 23 February 2024, eighteen mine action specialists and practitioners from the military, law enforcement, security services, and humanitarian agencies of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Serbia completed a three-week regional Explosive Ordnance Disposal course (EOD Level 3) at the Regional Explosive Hazards Training Centre of Tajikistan’s Ministry of Defense in Chimteppa.

During the EOD Level 3 course participants enhanced their skills in conducting render-safe procedures, demolitions up to 50 kg net explosive quantity on a wide range of specific types of explosive ordnance on which they have been trained, tape and line, dearmer, and rocket wrench techniques through a series of theoretical classes and practical exercises.

The closing ceremony at the National Library of Tajikistan in Dushanbe was attended by high-level representatives of the OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe, Tajikistan’s Ministry of Defense, Tajikistan National Mine Action Centre, the U.S. Embassy in Tajikistan, and the United States Army Central.

Carrie Lee, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe, warmly welcomed graduates from across Central Asia and highlighted that their participation reflects the collective commitment to eradicating the dangers of unexploded ordnance and bringing safety and hope to communities throughout the region.

David Silva, Command Sergeant Major of the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and high-yield Explosives Command, emphasized the ongoing partnerships between U.S. Army Central, U.S. Central Command, and the Tajikistan Ministry of Defense EOD forces. The collaborations, including Subject Matter Expert Exchanges and Humanitarian Mine Action engagements, have demonstrated the Tajikistan EOD forces' outstanding knowledge and technical proficiency in utilizing specialized tools and robotics platforms. 

Major General Sayorabek Bachabekzoda, Head of the Department of Engineering Troops of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Tajikistan highlighted the importance and relevance of explosive hazards for the region, particularly in Tajikistan. He stressed the importance of concerted efforts in mitigating these risks and working towards a safer environment for the population.

Major-General Muhabbat Ibrohimzoda, Director of the Tajikistan National Mine Action Centre, contributed to the dialogue by providing insights and perspectives on mine action-related initiatives. 

Ihar Kuzminich, Head of Countering Security Threats and Regional Cooperation Unit of the OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe, emphasized that the joint activities are in line with the OSCE's wider mandate and the 2017 Memorandum of Understanding with the Tajik Ministry of Defense. These activities foster political dialogue, mobilize relevant actors, and develop a platform for joint action to address security issues in Central Asia. 

The project aligns with the broader role of the OSCE with a focus on the crucial area of humanitarian mine action, aiming to make a lasting difference in addressing the risks and impacts of landmines and explosive remnants of war. By fostering collaboration and leveraging collective efforts, the project contributes to enhancing safety, promoting stability, and improving the lives of communities affected by explosive hazards in the region.

Categories: Central Europe

Launch of OSCE E-Learning Course on Renewable Energy, Energy Transition and Energy Efficiency in Central Asia

OSCE - Mon, 03/04/2024 - 11:07
563698 SDGs SDGs:  7 - Affordable and clean energy 13 - Climate action

Central Asia, with its untapped renewable energy potential, can make a major contribution to the green energy revolution. To meet this potential, Central Asian countries have prioritized the need to invest in an enabled workforce. Against this background, the OSCE has launched an E-learning course "Renewable Energy, Energy Transition, and Energy Efficiency in Central Asia" in partnership with the Kazakh-German University (DKU).

This E-learning initiative seeks to equip participants with foundational knowledge in renewable energy, energy transition, and energy efficiency within the context of Central Asia. While it places a particular emphasis on the technical, legislative, economic, and financial dimensions of renewable energy development in the region, it also addresses the crucial issue of gender equality by empowering women to actively engage in the energy sector.

This comprehensive E-learning course is available in both English and Russian, catering to individuals with varying levels of expertise in Central Asian energy dynamics. Comprising five sections, each housing four modules, the course offers participants the flexibility to complete the training at their own pace, with an estimated time investment of 12 to 15 hours.

·      Section I - Renewable Energy Development in Central Asia: Overview (Part I)

·     Section II – Renewable Energy Development in Central Asia: Overview (Part II)

·     Section III – Technical Aspects of Renewable Energy Development (Part I)

·     Section IV – Technical Aspects of Renewable Energy Development (Part II)

·     Section V – Financial and Gender Aspects of Renewable Energy Development in Central Asia

According to the International Energy Agency, in a net-zero emission scenario, the global shift towards clean energy is anticipated to create 17 million new jobs by 2030. Central Asia's vast renewable energy potential positions the region to seize this opportunity, including creating employment prospects and empowering women within the sector.

This course supports the OSCE’s commitment to enhancing energy security and promoting sustainability in Central Asia. Its development was made possible by financial contributions from Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland to our extra-budgetary initiatives.

The course is now available to all interested experts in the OSCE region, learn more here: 2024 Renewable Energy, Energy Transition, and Energy Efficiency in Central Asia | OSCE e-learning platform

Categories: Central Europe

Kyrgyz Republic strengthens capacities in combatting illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons, ammunition and explosives proliferation with the support of the OSCE

OSCE - Mon, 03/04/2024 - 05:41
563668 Officers of the Border Guard Service of the State Committee for National Security (SCNS) of the Kyrgyz Republic Chyngyz Zhanybekov Aida Almazbekova

From February 26 to March 1, 2024, a training course on the 'Combatting Illicit Trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW), Conventional Ammunition (CA), and Explosives at the border' took place in Osh, Kyrgyz Republic, aiming to address the adverse impact of illicit trafficking on safety and security in the OSCE region.

The uncontrolled spread of SALW, CA, and explosives, particularly to terrorists and criminal groups, has significantly impacted the safety of populations and the security of OSCE Participating States, increasing the intensity and duration of recent armed conflicts.

The training provided Kyrgyz border guard officers with an in-depth understanding of their roles in combating illicit trafficking of SALW, ammunition, and explosives, the identification of sources and proliferation of illicit SALW, and enhanced expertise in risk management. Participants gained insights into international legal frameworks, national regulations, and effective post-seizure procedures.

"This training is part of the OSCE regional approach for Central Asia in strengthening the capacities of the Border and Customs Services in detecting SALW, ammunition, and explosives at border crossing points based on international best practices," noted Nora Vanaga, Associate Project Officer at the Conflict Prevention Centre in the OSCE Secretariat.

"The illicit trafficking of SALW and their proliferation across national borders affect the safety of the entire population. Border guard officers play a key role in intercepting this phenomenon as they are the first to screen persons and goods entering a country. This course was designed to build the capacity of the Border Service in combating the illicit trafficking of SALW, ammunition, and explosives, with particular attention to promoting international standards in Kyrgyzstan," shared Ewa Klimuk, Project Manager at the OSCE Programme Office in Bishkek.

This course was organized within the framework of the extra-budgetary project project by the OSCE Programme Office in Bishkek (POiB) and the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre Supporting Unit, in collaboration with experts from INTERPOL, UNODC, and the German Verification Centre. The course was conducted as part of the ExB project of the POiB entitled 'Reducing the risk of the illicit proliferation of SALW, CA, and explosives across the border of Kyrgyz Republic,' funded by the Federal Republic of Germany and the United States of America.

By collaborating with international partners, the OSCE is committed to supporting the Kyrgyz Republic’s efforts in addressing transnational threats and ensuring safety and security in the broader OSCE area.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Presence in Albania organizes reginal meeting of police canine units, introduces training manual

OSCE - Fri, 03/01/2024 - 16:50

On 28 and 29 February 2024, the OSCE Presence in Albania organized the second regional expert meeting on advancing the regulatory framework of police canine units. This event, held for the second year in a row in Albania, brought together representatives of police canine units from Tirana, Sarajevo, Podgorica, Belgrade, Skopje, Pristina, and police canine experts from France and Austria. It provided theoretical sessions and practical exercises, discussions and presentations from canine experts.

“Considering the similar challenges our region is actively combatting and treating, these meetings serve as platform through which officials of Western Balkans jurisdictions, international experts and donor community, share knowledge and skills among canine units benefiting from the OSCE assistance projects,” stressed Sasho Trpchevski, Law Enforcement Development Officer in the OSCE Presence in Albania

Saimir Boshnjaku, Director of the Albanian Border and Migration Directorate highlighted the contribution of such meetings to the capacities of the Border and Migration Police, by exchanging the best practices with partners. The praised the co-operation between the State Police and the OSCE Presence on the project of small arms and light weapons.

This year the regional workshop focused on the newly-developed training manual that will serve as a professional growth tool for all dog handlers and instructors. The manual – prepared according to the international standards and tailored to the Albanian State Police needs – will serve as a bases for a training-of-trainers series that will contribute to the enhancement of canine capacities and capabilities to detect illicit firearms, ammunition, and explosives.

The development of the training manual is one of the many activities of the project “Assisting the national authorities of the Republic of Albania to decrease the risk of weapon proliferation and misuse of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW)”, implemented by the Presence with the financial support of the European Union, Germany and France. The regional meeting, also part of the project, was organized with the support of the OSCE Secretariat’s Forum for Security Co-operation Unit and in co-ordination with OSCE SALW projects implemented in the Western Balkans.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Secretary General to visit Turkmenistan

OSCE - Fri, 03/01/2024 - 13:46

VIENNA, 1 March 2024 - OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid will visit Turkmenistan from 4 to 6 March for meetings with the Ministers of Environment from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and with the Deputy Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

In Ashgabat, the Secretary General will engage with the high-level officials at a strategic discussion organized and hosted by the government of Turkmenistan. This discussion will focus on the implications of climate change for security and stability in Central Asia and the complex challenges the region faces in such areas as transboundary water management, energy security, sustainable connectivity, disaster risk reduction and others.

The meeting is part of continuing efforts following the OSCE High-Level Conference on Climate Change hosted by the Secretary General last July at which participating States discussed the potential implications of climate change for security and stability in the OSCE area, and how the OSCE has been effective in tackling climate change through concrete projects. The meeting in Ashgabat will offer Central Asian participating States a forum to lay out key opportunities to foster regional co-operation to address these challenges and discuss how the OSCE can support these efforts.

During her visit, Secretary General Schmid will also have a bilateral programme, including a meeting with the President of Turkmenistan, Serdar Berdimuhamedov.

With OSCE Field Operations being present in every Central Asian country, the Secretary General will also chair the annual gathering of the Heads of these Field Operations. The meeting will examine not only the work of each Mission and the impact of OSCE projects in the respective States, but also look for ways to improve regional cooperation to achieve greater benefits for the nearly 79 million people in Central Asia.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE supports open data policies in Ukraine through specialized training

OSCE - Fri, 03/01/2024 - 12:03

Open government data boost good governance, digital innovation and economic development. To promote the use and benefits of open data, the Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities (OCEEA) conducted two training courses for national and regional Ukrainian government officials. The training courses, titled “OSCE: The making and implementation of open data policy”, were organized with the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine and its Chief Digital Transformation Officers (CDTO) Campus, along with, an independent analytical media organization.

The two courses took place on 22 and 23 February and 29 February and 1 March. They brought together open data practitioners, speakers and guest lecturers from government, civil society and business representatives in Kyiv. Topics ranged from an introduction to national open data legislation to offering guidance on how to improve the quality of open data and ensure its effective usage by Ukrainian government bodies.

"We are building the most convenient digital state in the world,” said Valeriya Ionan, Deputy Minister for Eurointegration at the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine.

“Ukraine was one of the first countries to introduce the position of chief digital transformation officer, which allowed us to effectively implement digital reforms at the national and regional levels. However, we need more digital-era leaders. That is why we have created the CDTO Campus to provide the state with qualified digitalization specialists, as well as to train and support officers already working on the ground. Together with the OSCE, we are launching the first training courses of the CDTO Campus on open data policy development and implementation. This is a powerful anti-corruption step in improving the efficiency of decision-making and making it transparent to the public,” she added.

The sessions delved into the technical aspects of working with open data and also showcased national and international best practices and cases. Digital transformation officers from both national and local governments shared their experience in publishing and using open data for effective decision-making.

“The Ministry of Digital Transformation has placed a renewed emphasis on enhancing and building capacities in the field of open data. However, we know that it is not enough to simply collect it – we must ensure that it is effectively utilized to have a meaningful impact. This partnership emphasizes our shared commitment to leveraging technology for better societies,” said Olena Dobrunik, Assistant Project Officer at the OCEEA.

She highlighted that a key component of this effort is to cultivate a deeper understanding among civil servants of the importance and the effective use of open data. “By equipping them with the necessary skills and knowledge, we can improve the quality of publicly available information and enhance the effectiveness of government regulations and policies. This, in turn, allows decision makers to better respond to the needs of citizens and promote transparency and accountability.”

The OSCE’s focus on digitalization and open data underscores its commitment to fostering good governance and improving the business climate in the country, and highlights the immense opportunities that digital tools offer in enhancing transparency to prevent and combat corruption.

Categories: Central Europe

Strengthening airport security through behaviour detection focus of OSCE training in Chisinau

OSCE - Fri, 03/01/2024 - 11:43
563526 Communication and Media Relations Section David Dadge

Enhancing airport security through behaviour detection was the focus of a training session held from 27 to 29 February in Chisinau by the OSCE Transnational Threats Department and the Airport Police Network (AIRPOL). Bringing together 15 officers from the Moldovan Border Police, Customs Service, and Airport Administration, the interactive session equipped Moldovan border and law enforcement officers with advanced techniques and methods of effective behaviour detection at airports.

With the expert guidance of AIRPOL trainers on Behaviour Detection, the participants engaged in discussions and practical exercises designed to deepen their understanding of the behaviour detection process. The training covered four essential steps of behaviour detection, focusing on the improvement of interviewing techniques, ways of effectively conducting an interview, as well as applying risk-based security assessments, among others. These critical skills will enable Moldovan border officers to identify individuals who may pose a threat to airport security more effectively.

This course was also an opportunity for participants to explore and experience the benefits of behaviour detection at airports, and the importance of such techniques in safeguarding airports against acts of unlawful interference, thereby reinforcing the security of airport operations. The training course also helped foster better co-operation among Moldovan border agencies mandated with airport security.

This training initiative is part of a project supporting law enforcement agencies in Moldova in response to the security challenges in the region that is implement by the Transnational Threats Department in partnership with the Forum for Security Co-operation. The project is supported by Germany, Poland and the United States of America.

Categories: Central Europe

Slovakia’s 2023 early parliamentary elections: ODIHR election assessment mission final report

OSCE - Fri, 03/01/2024 - 11:19
452374 Public Affairs Unit, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Katya Andrusz

Slovakia’s 2023 early parliamentary elections were competitive and pluralistic, with fundamental rights and freedoms respected, but while the contestants enjoyed equitable campaign conditions, they competed in an environment characterized by high polarization. The elections were managed efficiently, but the campaign finance oversight and election dispute resolution mechanisms could benefit from further improvements to improve accountability.

These are some of the main conclusions from the final report on the 30 September elections published by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). The report offers 24 recommendations to support efforts to bring elections further in line with OSCE commitments, as well as other international obligations and standards for democratic elections.

Key recommendations include:

  • Clearly defining and delineating competencies and activities of the Ministry of Interior and the State Election Commission to ensure institutional and functional independence;
  • Removing restrictions on candidacy based on residency, criminal conviction and intellectual or psychosocial disabilities;
  • Giving responsibility for campaign finance oversight to an independent body with a strong mandate and capacity;
  • Decriminalizing defamation in favour of civil remedies;
  • Providing adequate deadlines for election disputes and clear guidelines for handling complaints;
  • Increasing efforts to allocate adequate premises for polling stations that allow independent access for voters with physical disabilities, providing election documents in accessible formats and using assistive tools to allow voters with disabilities to vote independently.

ODIHR deployed an Election Assessment Mission on 16 September 2023 to observe the early parliamentary elections. All 57 participating States across the OSCE region have formally committed to following up promptly on ODIHR’s election assessments and recommendations.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Programme Office in Bishkek Launches Consultative Mechanism: Fostering Collaboration and Dialogue Among Stakeholders

OSCE - Fri, 03/01/2024 - 08:52
563634 Chyngyz Zhanybekov Aida Almazbekova

Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic – 27 February 2024 - Today, the OSCE Programme Office in Bishkek launches its first round of Consultative Mechanism for the year 2024. This structured platform serves as a pivotal space where all state partners and civil society organizations of the Kyrgyz Republic convene to reflect on the achievements of the OSCE Programme Office in Bishkek, exchange ideas, and provide consultations on future collaboration initiatives.

During the Consultative Mechanism, representatives from all three Dimensions - the Politico-Military Dimension, Economic and Environmental Dimension, and the Human Dimension - presented their accomplishments in 2023 and outlined their priorities and plans for 2024.

Traditionally, the OSCE Programme Office in Bishkek conducts two rounds of consultative mechanisms annually, aligning its operations with requests of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic. This mechanism serves as a practical tool for facilitating dialogue, collaboration, and decision-making among stakeholders, ensuring that all decisions are well-informed and considerate of the interests and needs of the people of the Kyrgyz Republic.

Commenting on the launch of the Consultative Mechanism, Ambassador Alexey Rogov, Head of the OSCE Programme Office in Bishkek, stated, "This important platform underscores our commitment to fostering collaboration and dialogue among all stakeholders. By aligning our efforts with the priorities of the Kyrgyz Republic, we aim to deliver impactful initiatives that address the diverse needs of the country."

As the OSCE Programme Office in Bishkek embarks on its next chapter of collaboration, it reaffirms its dedication to further supporting the Kyrgyz Republic. Through the Consultative Mechanism and other initiatives, the Programme Office looks forward to continuing its work for years to come, promoting peace, stability, and prosperity in the Kyrgyz Republic and in the region.

Categories: Central Europe

Swift intervention necessary to break practice of early school dropout in Kosovo, concludes OSCE report

OSCE - Thu, 02/29/2024 - 14:05
563523 Therese Abrahamsen Edita Buçaj School Dropout Report: Behind the Numbers of Dropouts from Compulsory Education in the Kosovo System 2020-2023

PRISHTINË / PRIŠTINA, 1 March 2024 - The OSCE Mission in Kosovo published today its latest thematic report “School Dropout: Behind the Numbers of Dropouts from Compulsory Education in the Kosovo System 2020-2023.”

The report explores beyond the statistics to reveal the complex realities of dropout rates within Kosovo’s compulsory education system from 2020 to 2023. It finds that, despite commendable efforts by the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), challenges persist, particularly among children from vulnerable communities like the Kosovo Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptians.

The report presents data on over 400 individual cases of school abandonment from all over Kosovo between 2020 and 2023, and what measures, if any, were implemented to return the children to school. It points out that, while many factors contribute to school dropouts, poor socio-economic conditions and frequent discrimination intensify the phenomenon.

It also includes an analysis of MESTI dropout data from registered school children in grades I-IX, which shows that 43 per cent of school dropouts are from the Ashkali community, 43 per cent are from the Egyptian community, 13 per cent from the Roma community and 1 per cent from the majority community.

“Without active and systematic intervention, the practice of early school leaving will persist, limiting young people’s employment prospects and contributing to a disadvantaged and unskilled workforce. Urgent and co-ordinated efforts are crucial to break this cycle and promote a more inclusive education system in Kosovo,” said Michael Davenport, Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo.

The report lists a number of targeted recommendations for MESTI, the municipal education directorates, schools and non-governmental organizations across Kosovo, underlining the need to work together in consolidated efforts to keep children in school.

The full report is available here:

Categories: Central Europe

Serbia early parliamentary elections 2023: ODIHR election observation mission final report

OSCE - Wed, 02/28/2024 - 15:54
524376 Public Affairs Unit, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Katya Andrusz

Although technically well-administered and offering voters a choice of political alternatives, Serbia’s 2023 early parliamentary elections were dominated by the decisive involvement of the President, which, together with the ruling party’s systemic advantages, created unjust conditions for contestants. Fundamental freedoms were generally respected in the campaign, but it was marred by harsh rhetoric, bias in the media, pressure on public sector employees and misuse of public resources.

These are some of the main conclusions from the final report on the 17 December elections published today by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). The report offers 25 recommendations to support efforts to bring elections further in line with OSCE commitments, as well as other international obligations and standards for democratic elections.

Key recommendations include:

  • Reviewing the legislation to effectively address prior recommendations through an inclusive consultative process built upon a broad political consensus;
  • Introducing standardized mandatory training for all local electoral commission and polling board members, including the extended compositions of these bodies;
  • Developing and implementing a timely, comprehensive and targeted voter education programme, including on voters’ rights, the prevention of group voting and the importance of voting by secret ballot;
  • Conducting a meaningful audit of the voter and civil registers with the participation of relevant stakeholders;
  • Taking measures to prevent misuse of office and state resources and proactively addressing violations;
  • Implementing effective legal and institutional oversight mechanisms to prevent intimidation and pressure on voters, including employees of public and state institutions;
  • Effectively guaranteeing the independence of the Electronic Media Regulatory Authority and proactively addressing media violations identified through its systematic media monitoring.

The ODIHR Election Observation Mission for the early parliamentary elections commenced its work on 15 November and remained in the country until 27 December 2023.

All 57 participating States across the OSCE region have formally committed to following up promptly on ODIHR’s election assessments and recommendations.

Categories: Central Europe


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