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OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) Daily Report 120/2021 issued on 26 May 2021

OSCE - Wed, 05/26/2021 - 19:30
SDGs SDGs:  16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions

Summary

  • In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded 76 ceasefire violations, including 22 explosions. In the previous reporting period, it recorded 214 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • In Luhansk region, the Mission recorded 49 ceasefire violations, including 37 explosions. In the previous reporting period, it recorded 51 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • The SMM followed up on reports of a man injured due to the detonation of an unidentified explosive object in government-controlled Kreminna, Luhansk region.
  • The Mission saw damage to two inhabited houses in government-controlled Hranitne and Pisky, Donetsk region.
  • The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske and recorded ceasefire violations in areas close to the latter two disengagement areas.
  • The Mission facilitated and monitored adherence to localized ceasefires to enable the operation of critical civilian infrastructure.
  • The SMM continued following up on the situation of civilians, including at three entry-exit checkpoints and the corresponding checkpoints of the armed formations in Luhansk region.
  • The Mission visited two border crossing points outside government control in Donetsk region.
  • The SMM monitored the security situation in southern Kherson region.
  • The Mission’s freedom of movement continued to be restricted. Its unmanned aerial vehicles again experienced multiple instances of GPS signal interference.*
Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Linde concludes visit to Serbia, reiterates strong partnership with the country

OSCE - Wed, 05/26/2021 - 07:33

BELGRADE, 26 May 2021 — OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde, concluded her visit to Serbia yesterday. She reiterated the OSCE’s strong partnership with Serbia in its strategic reform priorities.

“The OSCE is a key platform for dialogue on comprehensive security matters based on shared commitments and principles. All participating States have equal footing and Serbia is an active participating State of the OSCE,” said Linde. “Our common security requires joint efforts to address problems that breed threats to democracy, human rights and the rule of law, economic disparity or inequalities.”

During her visit, Linde met with President Aleksandar Vučić, Prime Minister Ana Brnabić and Foreign Affairs Minister Nikola Selaković. She also met with the international community representatives in the country.

Linde affirmed the Chair’s full support for the country’s reform process. “Serbia has made progress on its democratic reform agenda and the focus now must be on the quality and implementation of reform legislation and incorporating best practices,” said Linde. “The OSCE Mission has been helping Serbia in important achievements, such as bolstering the fight against organized crime, fighting corruption, investing in security sector reform and fostering a pluralistic and safe media environment. That co-operation continues.”   

Linde said that the OSCE Mission to Serbia has a role to play to contribute to regional security and fostering broader stability. “Serbia’s offer of COVID-19 vaccination for citizens of neighbouring countries is praiseworthy.”

CiO Linde met Ivica Dacić, Speaker of the National Assembly and representatives of the Women’s Parliamentary Network. “Political participation of women in Serbia is now at its highest level ever, but much more needs to be done in addressing gender-based violence and discrimination of women in political life. The economic empowerment of women is essential in achieving gender equality, inclusive social development, prosperity and stability for all of society.”

At the OSCE Mission to Serbia, Linde attended the youth roundtable discussion with civil society. “Given the importance of youth and the cross-cutting nature of the challenges facing them, we have to continue investing in them across all of its programmes,” said Linde. “Young people must also remain engaged if they want to affect the development of their community. Civic education can play a significant role in helping young people understand how democratic institutions work.”

Categories: Central Europe

Visit of Special Representative of Swedish OSCE Chairperson-in-Office prepares ground for visit of mediators and observers

OSCE - Tue, 05/25/2021 - 18:44

CHISINAU, 25 May 2021 — The Special Representative of the Swedish OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for the Transdniestrian Settlement Process, Thomas Mayr-Harting, has concluded a three-day official visit to Moldova today. During the visit, he reviewed the current state of affairs in the Transdniestrian Settlement Process and stressed the need to advance this process, as well as prepared the ground for the visit of the mediators and observers to the Republic of Moldova next week.

“The constructive dialogue should continue to find practical solutions to outstanding issues and address issues of immediate concern of both Sides in a timely manner and in the spirit of confidence-building for the benefit of people on both banks of the Dniester/Nistru River,” said Mayr-Harting. “The more we engage in dialogue, the more trust we will build. People on both banks of the Dniester/Nistru expect efforts to set aside differences and make progress in the Settlement Process.”

In Chisinau, Mayr-Harting met with Moldovan President, Maia Sandu, Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, Aureliu Ciocoi, and Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration, Olga Cebotari.  In Tiraspol, he met with Transdniestrian leader, Vadim Krasnoselsky, and the Transdniestrian Chief Negotiator, Vitaly Ignatiev.

In his discussions with the Sides, Mayr-Harting exchanged views on the state of affairs in the Settlement Process ahead of the forthcoming visit of the mediators and observers, and reviewed the potential for moving on key current issues improving lives of people on both banks of the Dniester/Nistru River, including freedom of movement, protection of human rights, transportation and healthcare. He also stressed the need to advance the Settlement Process and develop further joint proposals.

He encouraged the Sides to consolidate efforts in view of a result-oriented “5+2” meeting in Stockholm, which the Swedish OSCE Chairpersonship stands ready to convene.

During his visit, the Special Representative met a number of stakeholders and discussed the current status of the Settlement Process, including with leaders of political parties and the resident Ambassadors of the mediators and observers in the Transdniestrian Settlement Process.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) Daily Report 119/2021 issued on 25 May 2021

OSCE - Tue, 05/25/2021 - 18:16
SDGs SDGs:  16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions

Summary

  • In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded 214 ceasefire violations, including 31 explosions. In the previous 24 hours, it recorded 134 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • In Luhansk region, the Mission recorded 51 ceasefire violations, including 31 explosions. In the previous 24 hours, it recorded 120 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • The SMM saw damage to houses, five of which are inhabited, in government-controlled Marinka and the Trudivski area of non-government-controlled Donetsk city’s Petrovskyi District, Donetsk region.
  • The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske and recorded ceasefire violations in the disengagement area near Petrivske.
  • The Mission facilitated and monitored adherence to localized ceasefires to enable the operation of critical civilian infrastructure.
  • The SMM continued following up on the situation of civilians, including at four entry-exit checkpoints and the corresponding checkpoints of the armed formations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
  • The Mission’s freedom of movement continued to be restricted, including at a border crossing point outside government control near Izvaryne, Luhansk region. Its unmanned aerial vehicles again experienced multiple instances of GPS signal interference.*
Categories: Central Europe

Weekly Update from the OSCE Observer Mission at Russian Checkpoints Gukovo and Donetsk based on information as of 25 May 2021

OSCE - Tue, 05/25/2021 - 13:48

SUMMARY

Kamensk-Shakhtinskiy, Russian Federation. The Observer Mission (OM) continues to operate 24/7 at both Border Crossing Points (BCPs). The overall number of border crossings by persons decreased at both BCPs compared to the previous week. 

OPERATIONAL REMARKS

The OM is currently operating with 22 permanent international Mission members, including the Chief Observer (CO) and a First Responder.[1] The Mission is supported administratively by a staff member and the Chief of Fund Administration based in Vienna.

Update on COVID-19 measures

Activities have been impacted by COVID-19 and measures undertaken by the OM to ensure the safety and duty of care of its Mission members and compliance with measures set by the host country authorities. The Mission is continuing to keep the situation under review, in close contact with the OSCE Secretariat and the Chairpersonship. Following the host country’s recommendations, the observers are adhering to distancing. Due to the preventive measures taken by the central and regional authorities, the OM is faced with certain difficulties, but is still able to continue to fulfil its mandate without any limitations in its observation and reporting activities. During this reporting period, the vaccination process provided by the host country medical system continues on a voluntary basis. By now, 73 per cent of OM staff have received both jabs of the vaccine.

OBSERVATIONS AT THE BORDER CROSSING POINTS

Persons crossing the border

The profile of persons crossing the border can be categorized as follows:

  1. Adults travelling on foot or by car with little or no luggage.
  2. Persons in military-style outfits.
  3. Families (often including elderly persons and/or children) travelling on foot or by car with a significant amount of luggage.

The average number of entries/exits decreased from 9,264 to 8,622 per day at both BCPs compared to last week. During the reporting period, the majority of border crossings were to the Russian Federation, with an average net flow of 282 per day for both BCPs. The Donetsk BCP continued to experience much more traffic than the Gukovo BCP.

Responding to the COVID-19 situation, the host country closed its borders for the majority of foreigners starting from 18 March 2020. Among the exceptions of persons allowed to cross the border (which entered into force on 19 March) are Ukrainian citizens and stateless persons holding passports or identification documents proving permanent residence in certain areas of Luhansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine. In addition, reportedly, due to the threat of the spread of COVID-19, starting from 10 April 2020, the organized passenger transport commuting between the non-government-controlled areas of Luhansk region of Ukraine and the Russian Federation was temporarily suspended and restored from 25 June.

Persons in military-style outfits

During the reporting period, the number of persons in military-style outfits crossing the border was two, compared to 18 last week; one person crossed into the Russian Federation while one person crossed into Ukraine. These individuals crossed the border on foot.

Families with a significant amount of luggage

The OTs continued to report on families, sometimes with elderly persons and/or children, crossing the border at both BCPs with a significant amount of luggage, or travelling in heavily loaded cars. During this reporting week, no families were observed crossing into the Russian Federation and four families were observed crossing into Ukraine, compared to the previous reporting period when one family was observed crossing into the Russian Federation and one family was observed crossing into Ukraine.

Bus connections                                         

Regular local and long-distance bus connections continued to operate between Ukraine (mostly from/to the Luhansk region) and the Russian Federation. During the reporting period, the OTs observed a decrease in the overall number of buses crossing the border at both BCPs (333 compared to 419 observed during the previous week). There were 169 buses bound for the Russian Federation and 164 bound for Ukraine.

On some occasions, the OTs noticed the bus drivers removing the itinerary signs from the windshields of their buses, while some buses did not display their route at all. The majority of long-distance buses commuting between the Luhansk region and cities in the Russian Federation had Ukrainian licence plates issued in the Luhansk region. Among the bus connections observed by the OTs, the following “irregular” route or destination was noted: Luhansk- Sevastopol.

Trucks

During the reporting period, the OTs observed an increase in the overall number of trucks crossing the border at both BCPs (801 compared to 741 during the previous reporting week); 465 at the Gukovo BCP and 336 at the Donetsk BCP, 434 of these trucks crossed into the Russian Federation, and 367 crossed into Ukraine. Most of the trucks observed by the OTs had Ukrainian licence plates issued in the Luhansk region; however, on a daily basis, the OTs also noted trucks registered in Belarus, Lithuania, the Russian Federation, and trucks with “LPR and “DPR” plates.

The OTs also continued to observe tanker trucks crossing the border in both directions. During the reporting period, the OTs observed a slight decrease in the overall number of tanker trucks crossing the border at both BCPs (49 compared to 53 during the previous reporting week). These trucks were observed crossing the border at both BCPs. The trucks had the words “Propane” and “Flammable” written across the tanks in either Russian or Ukrainian. The majority of tanker trucks had hazard signs, indicating that they were transporting propane or a mix of propane and butane. All trucks underwent systematic inspection by Russian Federation officials, which could include an X-ray check. Due to the unfavorable observation position at the Gukovo BCP, the OTs continued to be unable to observe any X-ray checks.

Compared to the previous week, the total number of X-ray checks at the Donetsk BCP slightly decreased from 141 to 138. Of the total number of trucks scanned, 138 trucks (100 per cent) were bound for Ukraine.  

Minivans

The OM continued to observe passenger and cargo minivans[2] crossing the border in both directions at both BCPs. The OTs observed minivans predominantly with Ukrainian licence plates issued in the Luhansk region; however, the OTs also saw minivans registered in the Russian Federation. During the reporting period, the OTs observed an increase in the overall number of minivans crossing the border at both BCPs (153 compared to 135 observed during the previous week); 87 crossed into the Russian Federation and another 66 into Ukraine.

Trains

The OTs continued to pick up the sound of trains on the railway tracks located approximately 150m south-west of the Gukovo BCP. During the reporting week, the OTs heard trains on 21 occasions; the OTs assessed that 13 trains were travelling to the Russian Federation and the remaining eight trains were travelling to Ukraine (more details are provided in the sections “trends and figures at a glance” below).

Visual observation was not possible because of the line of trees located between the train tracks and the BCP.

Other observations

The majority of vehicles crossing the border had Ukrainian licence plates issued in the Luhansk region or Russian Federation licence plates. A significant number of vehicles with “LPR” plates were also observed crossing the border in both directions on a daily basis. The OTs also observed vehicles with Georgian, Armenian and Lithuanian licence plates and vehicles with “DPR” plates.

On 18 May at 18:32, the OT at the Donetsk BCP observed two ambulances arriving at the BCP from the Russian Federation. The first ambulance “Peugeot” type with the “LPR” plates had an inscription “Ambulance” written in English on the sides. The second brand-new ambulance type “Gazelle” with no licence plates bore an inscription “Emergency Medical Services” written in Russian. After undergoing border and customs control procedures, including an X-ray check, both ambulances left the BCP for Ukraine at 19:46.

On 18 May at 19:48, the OT at the Donetsk BCP observed a cargo minivan with “LPR” plates arriving at the BCP from the Russian Federation. The vehicle had the sign “LPR Post” displayed on the sides (in Russian). After undergoing border and customs control procedures, the vehicles left for Ukraine.

On 19 May at 00:45, the OT at the BCP Donetsk observed two pavement milling machines type “XCMG XM200KII-2” arriving from the Russian Federation. At 02:40, after undergoing border and customs control procedures, the vehicles left the BCP for Ukraine.

On 19 May at 04:02, the OT at the BCP Donetsk observed an ambulance with its flashing lights on and an inscription “Emergency Medical Service” written in Russian, arriving at the BCP from the Russian Federation. After a short stay in front of the BCP’s main building, the ambulance left for Ukraine.

On 19 May at 14:15, the OT at the BCP Donetsk observed a light grey minivan with Russian Federation licence plates and an inscription “Ritual” written in Russian on the side arriving at the BCP from the Russian Federation. After undergoing border and customs control procedures, the vehicle left for Ukraine at 15:45.  

On 19 May at 20:21, the OT at the BCP Donetsk observed an ambulance with Russian Federation licence plates and the inscription “Urgent medical help” written in Russian on the side, arriving at the BCP from the Russian Federation. The ambulance parked in front of the BCP’s control area. Two paramedics entered the BCP’s main building and returned after a short while accompanying a woman to the ambulance. At 20:43, the woman returned to the BCP’s main building and the ambulance drove back into the Russian Federation.

The truck with “LPR” plates carrying four jet engines (the main part of the engine, similar to the Klimov VK-1 and the Rolls-Royce Nene jet engines), observed by the OT at the Gukovo BCP on 25 April and reported in recent Weekly Updates is still parked at the BCP’s customs control area facing in the direction of the Russian Federation.

For trends and figures at a glance covering the period from 20 April 2021 to 25 May 2021, please see the attachment here.

[1] First responders are OSCE staff or Mission members deployed for a short period of time.

[2] Cargo minivans: light commercial vehicles with a maximum authorized mass of more than 3.5 t and not more than 7.5 t; with or without a trailer with a maximum mass of less than 750 kg (small cargo vehicles that correspond to driving licence C1).

Categories: Central Europe

Launch of 2021 OSCE-UNODA Scholarship for Peace and Security training programme for young professionals.

OSCE - Tue, 05/25/2021 - 13:35
487549

The Scholarship for Peace and Security training programme launched on 24 May 2021 with participation by some 150 young professionals from 60 OSCE participating States and Partners for Co-operation. The programme, which was established in 2017, is organized jointly each year by the OSCE in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs in Vienna.

The 2021 edition comprises a one-month online course, which will end on 30 July 2021, and an in-person course in Vienna, pending COVID-19 restrictions. It will focus on developing participants’ knowledge of conflict prevention and resolution through arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation in the OSCE area. The interactive online course is also designed to provide a closer look at security-related topic, as well as facilitate networking and provide information on career opportunities.

Each year, the programme places particular emphasis on encouraging the participation of women to contribute to diminishing the gender gap in these fields. In this year’s edition, 131 of the 150 participants are women. 

The programme also encourages its alumni to stay connected within the field. Many of the 300 graduates from previous editions are still engaged in arms control, disarmament, non-proliferation, conflict prevention and resolution, and other fields related to security.

Categories: Central Europe

Efforts by prosecutors and law enforcement to address hate crime in Armenia: ODIHR seminar

OSCE - Tue, 05/25/2021 - 10:34
487513 Public Affairs Unit, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Katya Andrusz

On 25 May 2021, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) organized an online awareness-raising seminar on improving the ability to recognize, investigate and prosecute hate crimes, involving criminal justice authorities and civil society in Armenia.

The event launched two comprehensive hate crime training programmes, to be implemented in Armenia in the coming years. In close co-operation with the national police, ODIHR will provide Training against Hate Crime for Law Enforcement (TAHCLE). Furthermore, the Armenian Academy of Justice, Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor General’s Office have agreed to carry out the Prosecutors and Hate Crimes Training (PAHCT), with ODIHR’s support.

The PAHCT and TACHLE programmes aim to strengthen the knowledge and skills of participants in key areas: preventing and responding to hate crimes, interacting effectively with victims of hate crimes, and helping build public confidence and trust in criminal justice agencies.

“The effective response to hate crime cases requires all chains of the criminal justice system to be trained in recognizing and handling hate crimes,” said Katarzyna Gardapkhadze, First Deputy Director of ODIHR. “To this end, we commend the multi-faceted approach Armenia is taking, by simultaneously training police, investigators and prosecutors, as a critical step to ensuring an effective state response to hate crime.”

In line with the results of an assessment carried out by ODIHR ahead of the seminar, the Office is developing customized training curricula to meet local needs, policies, and legislation. Following this, ODIHR will conduct a number of train-the-trainers sessions with criminal justice authorities. Those trained will be expected to deliver the programmes to pre-selected groups of police officers, investigators and prosecutors.

The Armenian government’s efforts to address hate crime and discrimination are reflected in the recent law on the rights of persons with disabilities. This aims to create a more inclusive society by fighting discrimination and thus ensuring that no one remains marginalized, isolated and invisible. At the same time, the Armenian parliament adopted a new progressive Criminal Code this month that will contribute to the effective prosecution, adjudication and punishment of hate crimes.

Categories: Central Europe

ODIHR opens special election assessment mission in Mongolia

OSCE - Tue, 05/25/2021 - 10:26

ULAANBAATAR, 25 May 2021 – The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) today formally opened a special election assessment mission (SEAM) for the 9 June presidential election in Mongolia, following an official invitation from the national authorities.

The mission is headed by Lolita Čigāne (Latvia), and consists of a team of nine international experts based in Ulaanbaatar. The mission will assess the election for its compliance with OSCE commitments and other international obligations and standards for democratic elections, as well as with national legislation. Observers will look closely at fundamental aspects of the election such as voter and candidate registration, campaign activities and the media coverage of the campaign, the work of the election administration and relevant state bodies, implementation of the legal framework, and the resolution of election disputes.

Meetings with representatives of state authorities and political parties, civil society, the media and the international community are also planned. The ODIHR SEAM will co-operate closely with the health authorities of Mongolia and follow the health guidelines they have established.

While mission members will visit a limited number of polling stations on election day, there will not be any systematic or comprehensive observation of the voting, counting or tabulation proceedings, in line with ODIHR’s methodology for election assessment missions.

The day after the election, ODIHR will publish its preliminary conclusions about the electoral process and present its findings at a press conference. An invitation to participate will follow separately.

A final report containing an assessment of the entire election process and recommendations will be published approximately two months after the election.

Further information on ODIHR’s election observation activities in Mongolia is available here: https://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/mongolia/ 

Media contacts:

Pietro Tesfamariam, media analyst, pietro.tesfamariam@odihr.mn

or

Katya Andrusz, ODIHR Spokesperson, at +48609522266 (Warsaw mobile), or katya.andrusz@odihr.pl.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Secretary General Schmid to visit Ukraine this week

OSCE - Tue, 05/25/2021 - 09:47

VIENNA, 25 May 2021 — OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid will visit Ukraine this week for meetings with high-level Ukrainian officials and travel to the east of the country.

Schmid plans to hold talks with senior-level officials, including Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine Oleksii Reznikov, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, and Dmytro Razumkov, Chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament. The talks will focus on the crisis in and around Ukraine and on ways to strengthen co-operation between the OSCE and Ukraine.

During her visit, the Secretary General will also meet with staff members from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) and the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine (PCU). She will also meet with representatives of international humanitarian organizations, as well as civil society representatives and youth activists.

She also plans to visit eastern Ukraine to see first-hand the situation in conflict-affected areas and the work being carried out by SMM and PCU on the ground. 

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) Daily Report 118/2021 issued on 24 May 2021

OSCE - Mon, 05/24/2021 - 20:22
SDGs SDGs:  16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions

Summary

  • In Donetsk region, between the evenings of 21 and 23 May, the SMM recorded 601 ceasefire violations, including 323 explosions. In the previous reporting period, it recorded 197 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • In Luhansk region, between the evenings of 21 and 23 May, the Mission recorded 235 ceasefire violations, including 154 explosions. In the previous reporting period, it recorded 337 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • The SMM lost spatial control of its mini-unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) near non-government-controlled Vesela Hora, Luhansk region and Nova Marivka, Donetsk region.
  • The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske.
  • The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to localized ceasefires to enable the maintenance and operation of critical civilian infrastructure.
  • The Mission continued following up on the situation of civilians, including at three entry-exit checkpoints and four corresponding checkpoints of the armed formations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
  • The SMM’s freedom of movement continued to be restricted, including at a checkpoint of the armed formations near Kreminets, Donetsk region. Its UAVs experienced multiple instances of GPS signal interference.*
Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Linde to visit Serbia and Montenegro

OSCE - Mon, 05/24/2021 - 10:09

VIENNA/STOCKHOLM, 24 May 2021 — The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde, will visit Serbia on 24 and 25 May and Montenegro on 25 and 26 May.

Linde’s visit will focus on core aspects of the OSCE’s work and the support that the OSCE Missions have given to their host countries´ development related to regional security, fundamental freedoms, the rule of law and equality, strengthening the women peace and security agenda and the importance of women’s economic empowerment. She will also emphasize the importance of good governance, anti-corruption and the fight against transnational organized crime.

In Serbia, Linde will meet with President Aleksandar Vučić, Prime Minister Ana Brnabić and Foreign Affairs Minister Nikola Selaković, the Women’s Parliamentary Network and Ivica Dacić, Speaker of the National Assembly. The meeting with Foreign Minister Selaković will be followed by a press conference on 24 May at 18:00.

Linde will attend the youth roundtable with civil society at the OSCE’s Mission to Serbia and meet with representatives of the international community in Serbia.

In Montenegro, Linde will meet with President Milo Đukanović, Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapić, Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazović, Foreign Minister Đorđe Radulović and the President of the Parliament Aleksa Bečić. The meeting with Foreign Minister Radulović will be followed by a press conference on 26 May at 10:00.

Chairperson Linde will also meet with representatives of the Women’s Parliamentary Club and participate in a youth roundtable with civil society.

For more information about Sweden's 2021 OSCE Chairpersonship, please visit the OSCE website: https://www.osce.org/chairmanship

For inquiries about participation in press conferences, please contact the MFA in each country.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Chairperson-in-Office calls on Belarus to immediately release journalist Pratasevich

OSCE - Sun, 05/23/2021 - 22:19

STOCKHOLM, 23 May 2021 — The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde condemned the circumstances of the arrest of journalist Raman Pratasevich in Minsk on 23 May 2021.

“I am alarmed by reports that a civilian plane has been forced to land in Minsk in order to arrest independent journalist Raman Pratasevich” said CiO Linde. “It is a deeply disturbing and reckless behavior. I call on Belarus to immediately release journalist Pratasevich.”

She also called on Belarus to adhere to all its international obligations, including its international commitments in terms of media freedom and human rights as an OSCE participating State, and demanded an immediate explanation from Minsk.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) Daily Report 117/2021 issued on 22 May 2021

OSCE - Sat, 05/22/2021 - 19:28
SDGs SDGs:  16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions

Summary

  • In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded 197 ceasefire violations, including 128 explosions. In the previous reporting period, it recorded 815 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • In Luhansk region, the Mission recorded 337 ceasefire violations, including 308 explosions. In the previous reporting period, it recorded one ceasefire violation in the region.
  • The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske. It recorded four ceasefire violations assessed as inside the disengagement area near Petrivske.
  • The Mission facilitated and monitored adherence to localized ceasefires to enable the maintenance and operation of critical civilian infrastructure.
  • The SMM continued following up on the situation of civilians, including at five entry-exit checkpoints and four corresponding checkpoints of the armed formations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
  • The Mission monitored a gathering in Kyiv.
  • The SMM’s freedom of movement continued to be restricted, including at a border crossing point near Voznesenivka and at the Chervona Mohyla railway station in Voznesenivka, in Luhansk region and at a checkpoint of the armed formations near Novoazovsk, in southern Donetsk region. Its unmanned aerial vehicles experienced multiple instances of GPS signal interference.*
Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Special Representative for the Transdniestrian Settlement Process to visit the Republic of Moldova from 23 to 25 May

OSCE - Fri, 05/21/2021 - 19:49

CHISINAU, 21 May 2021 - The Special Representative of the Swedish OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for the Transdniestrian Settlement Process, Thomas Mayr-Harting, will visit the Republic of Moldova from 23 to 25 May to review the current state of affairs in the Transdniestrian Settlement Process and, together with the Sides, identify concrete steps to advance the settlement.

In Chisinau, Mayr-Harting is scheduled to meet with the Moldovan President Maia Sandu, Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Aureliu Ciocoi, and Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration Olga Cebotari, as well as leaders of political parties. He will also meet with the resident ambassadors of the 5+2 mediators and observers.

In Tiraspol, the Special Representative will meet the Transdniestrian leader, Vadim Krasnoselsky and the Transdniestrian Chief Negotiator, Vitaly Ignatiev.

On 25 May 2021, Special Representative Mayr-Harting will give a press briefing at 14:00 at the location of the OSCE Mission to Moldova in Chisinau, 75 Alexei Mateevici Street (the event will be organized outdoors in the inner courtyard).

Media representatives are invited to attend the press briefing in person and are requested to observe social distancing guidelines and wear facemasks, as per instructions issued by the Moldovan authorities.

For more information, please contact the Press Office of the OSCE Mission to Moldova, at +373 22 887 887 (landline), e-mail: MtMpress@osce.org.

For further details, please visit the OSCE Mission to Moldova website: http://www.osce.org/moldova/

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) Daily Report 116/2021 issued on 21 May 2021

OSCE - Fri, 05/21/2021 - 18:39
SDGs SDGs:  16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions

Summary

  • In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded 815 ceasefire violations, including 13 explosions. 774 of these ceasefire violations were assessed as a live-fire exercise near non-government-controlled Sofiivka (formerly Karlo-Marksove). In the previous reporting period, it recorded 118 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • In Luhansk region, the Mission recorded one ceasefire violation; an undetermined explosion. In the previous reporting period, it also recorded one ceasefire violation in the region.
  • The SMM followed up on reports of a woman injured due to the detonation of an unidentified explosive object in a non-government-controlled area of Zaitseve, Donetsk region.
  • An explosion occurred close to an SMM patrol near government-controlled Avdiivka, Donetsk region.
  • The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske.
  • The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to localized ceasefires to enable the maintenance and operation of critical civilian infrastructure.
  • The Mission continued following up on the situation of civilians, including at three entry-exit checkpoints and the corresponding checkpoints of the armed formations in Luhansk region.
  • The SMM’s freedom of movement continued to be restricted, including again at a checkpoint of the armed formations near Olenivka, Donetsk region. Its unmanned aerial vehicles again experienced instances of GPS signal interference.*
Categories: Central Europe

Second online Training on the Identification of Imposters at Border Crossing Points

OSCE - Fri, 05/21/2021 - 17:29
487300 Communication and Media Relations Section Alexandra Taylor

Learning how to identify and stop imposters at a border crossing was the focus of an online OSCE training course held on 19 and 20 May 2021. Over 200 participants from 29 OSCE participating States and Partners for Co-operation took part in the course. They comprised members of the OSCE Border Security and Management National Focal Points (NFP) Network and selected representatives of border and customs services.

The course was organized by the Border Security and Management Unit of the OSCE Transnational Threats Department and was the second online training course on “Identification of Impostors at Border Crossing Points”. Experts of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Interior led the course, which aimed at enhancing the abilities of front-line officers to identify potential criminals travelling under a false identity.

“Activities in the field of document and identity fraud are one of the most significant tools to counter illegal movement of terrorists, criminals and traffickers of all kinds. It is important to be ready to respond to major challenges, such as impostors and attacks using morphed face images, and be able to identify new types of forgeries, including those connected to COVID-19 related documents,” said Dennis Cosgrove, Head of the OSCE Border Security and Management Unit, in his opening remarks.

“Impostors represent one of the main challenges in the field of identity fraud. Despite improved travel documents and security features, stricter controls on documents’ issuance, and strengthened security checks at cross-border check points, identity fraud is on the rise. Criminals are constantly diversifying forging methods as they look for ways to assume false identities without detection,” Cosgrove said.

The training course featured interactive elements, including memory tests and exercises on facial appearance and comparison, as well as lectures and practical modules on anatomical features and examination techniques of facial components.

The course served as a forum for exchanging information on the latest trends related to morphing (a special effect in motion pictures and animations that changes (or morphs) one image or shape into another through a seamless transition) and the use of fraudulent COVID-19 tests and vaccine certificates for travel purposes.

Real examples and cases encountered by participants while performing their duties were presented and discussed during the activities.

This training course is part of a series of activities on the detection of forged travel documents and imposters organized by the OSCE Border Security and Management Unit in different countries that started in 2015.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Day held in Uzbekistan on the twentieth anniversary celebration of children's organization Kamalak

OSCE - Fri, 05/21/2021 - 10:57

Ninety youth leaders and volunteers to their communities from all over Uzbekistan participated on 20 May 2021 in an OSCE Day, held in a hybrid format, dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the children's organization Kamalak. The OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Uzbekistan organized the event in co-operation with the Child’s Rights Ombudsperson and the Youth Union.

Participants had the opportunity to learn about the OSCE, enhance their knowledge about its executive structures and understand the work undertaken by the Organization in Uzbekistan. The interactive sessions provided an opportunity for a lively exchange of thoughts and ideas on the role of youth in promoting a culture of peace, tolerance and equality.

Mathieu Lemoine, Human Dimension Senior Project Officer, in his opening remarks noted that the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Uzbekistan recognizes the advancements in expanding and further increasing the effectiveness of youth reforms in Uzbekistan. “Today’s event introduces participants to the OSCE and its activities in Uzbekistan, giving them the chance to learn how the Organization works, what problems it aims to solve, and also providing the opportunity to try to approach some of the common problems, like true development practitioners”.

The event is part of the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Uzbekistan’s activities aimed at involving young people in promoting peace and security and protecting the rights of youth, as per the 2014 Basel Ministerial Council Declaration on Youth and the 2018 OSCE Declaration on the Role of Youth in Contributing to Peace and Security Efforts.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media concludes visit to Germany

OSCE - Thu, 05/20/2021 - 20:50
487213

On 20 May 2021, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Teresa Ribeiro, concluded an official two-day visit to Germany.

Ribeiro met several German governmental authorities, including Michael Roth, State Minister for Europe; Miguel Berger, State Secretary of the Federal Foreign Office; Christian Kastrop, State Secretary of Justice and Consumer Protection; Ambassador Susanne Schuetz; Thomas Bagger, Director of Foreign Policy in the Office of the Federal President; and Bernhard Kotsch, Director-General Federal Intelligence Service and Coordination of Federal Intelligence Services.

Ribeiro also met with Members of Parliament Doris Barnett and Michael Link; with Christian Mihr, Director of Reporter Ohne Grenzen and several of his colleagues; and with Thomas Geithner of the police force of Saxony.

Ribeiro and her counterparts discussed several topics, including the impact on the work of journalists of the Law on the Federal Intelligence Service (Bundesnachrichtendienst; BND), the law that German Federal Parliament passed in April this year after the First Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court had ordered the adaption of an earlier version of the bill. They also spoke about disinformation, the regulation of online platforms and the impact of Artificial Intelligence on media freedom.

The changes and challenges regarding the media landscape in Germany and in the OSCE region and the increasing violence against media, including during public gatherings, were also discussed. During a meeting with a representative of the police force of Saxony, Ribeiro learned about the special protection team (Medienschutzteam) that this police force has organized to protect media workers when reporting on public gatherings.

Ribeiro and her counterparts agreed that good co-operation between (parties in) participating States and her Office is of fundamental importance to improving media freedom in the OSCE region.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) Daily Report 115/2021 issued on 20 May 2021

OSCE - Thu, 05/20/2021 - 19:03
SDGs SDGs:  16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions

Summary

  • In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded 118 ceasefire violations, including 92 explosions. In the previous reporting period, it recorded 196 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • In Luhansk region, the Mission recorded one ceasefire violation; an undetermined explosion. In the previous reporting period, it recorded 37 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske.
  • The Mission observed weapons in violation of withdrawal lines on both sides of the contact line in Donetsk region, and in a government-controlled area of Luhansk region.
  • The Mission facilitated and monitored adherence to localized ceasefires to enable the maintenance and operation of critical civilian infrastructure.
  • The SMM continued following up on the situation of civilians, including at four entry-exit checkpoints and three corresponding checkpoints of the armed formations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
  • The SMM followed up on reports of an incident at a church in Zabolottia, in Rivne region.
  • The Mission’s freedom of movement continued to be restricted, including at checkpoints of the armed formations near Bezimenne and Zaichenko, southern Donetsk region. Its UAVs again experienced instances of GPS signal interference.*
Categories: Central Europe

OSCE SMM Spot Report 15/2021: Members of the armed formations again denied the SMM passage at the checkpoint near Olenivka, Donetsk region

OSCE - Thu, 05/20/2021 - 18:55
SDGs SDGs:  16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions

On the morning of 20 May, an SMM patrol travelling from non-government-controlled Donetsk city, consisting of two vehicles, one trailer and four mission members, arrived at the checkpoint of the armed formations near Olenivka (non-government-controlled, 23km south-west of Donetsk) to conduct an exchange of trailers with a second SMM patrol arriving from government-controlled areas.

At 10:47, while at the checkpoint, a member of the armed formations approached the patrol and requested the SMM’s vehicles’ registration documents. The patrol refused the request and remained stationary at the checkpoint.

At 11:40, the patrol again attempted to cross the checkpoint, but was denied once more for the same reason.

At 12:10, the patrol attempted for a third time to cross the checkpoint, but members of the armed formations declined to engage with the patrol.

At 12:30, the patrol left the checkpoint and returned to Donetsk city.

Since 1 March 2021, the Mission has faced similar denials in non-government-controlled Donetsk region seven times: four times at the same checkpoint of the armed formations near Olenivka, on 1 March, 15 March, 17 and 26 April; and three times at the checkpoint near Oleksandrivka (20km south-west of Donetsk), on 31 March, 2 April and 8 April (see SMM Spot Reports 1/20213/20214/20215/2021, 7/2021, 9/2021, and 12/2021).

On all occasions, the SMM undertook efforts to facilitate the patrol’s crossing that would enable the exchange of trailers, but the vehicles were not allowed to pass.

The Mission again notes that such denials at checkpoints of the armed formations not only restrict the SMM’s freedom of movement across the contact line, but also prevent the SMM’s logistical operations, which are essential for the implementation of its tasks.

The OSCE Permanent Council Decision No. 1117 specifies that the SMM shall have safe and secure access throughout Ukraine. Unrestricted and unconditional access to all areas is essential to ensure effective monitoring and reporting of the security situation, as well as other mandated tasks. The mandate also tasks the Mission to report on any restrictions of its freedom of movement or other impediments to fulfilment of its mandate.

Categories: Central Europe

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