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OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) Daily Report 106/2021 issued on 10 May 2021

OSCE - Mon, 05/10/2021 - 19:27
SDGs SDGs:  16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions

Summary

  • In Donetsk region, between the evenings of 7 and 9 May the SMM recorded 163 ceasefire violations, including 105 explosions. In the previous reporting period, it recorded 663 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • In Luhansk region, between the evenings of 7 and 9 May the Mission recorded 23 ceasefire violations, including 15 explosions. In the previous reporting period, it recorded 144 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • The SMM followed up on reports of injuries to one man on 16 April at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol and the death of another man on 4 May at a cemetery in Verkhnotoretske, both due to explosions of unknown objects.
  • The Mission saw fresh damage to a pumping station in Donetsk city’s Kyivskyi district and a functioning school in Donetsk city’s Trudivski area, and to a residential building in Zolote-5 Mykhailivka, Luhansk region.
  • The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske. It recorded ceasefire violations inside the disengagement area near Petrivske.
  • The Mission facilitated and monitored adherence to localized ceasefires to enable operation of critical civilian infrastructure.
  • The Mission observed a military-style parade in non-government-controlled Donetsk city at which it saw weapons in violation of the withdrawal lines.
  • 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 monitored events commemorating Victory Day and Remembrance and Reconciliation Day throughout Ukraine.
  • The SMM monitored the security situation in south-east Kherson region.
  • 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

OSCE Mediterranean Partnership discussion: Fight against transnational organized crime depends on multilateral co-operation

OSCE - Mon, 05/10/2021 - 14:32

VIENNA, 10 May 2021 – To maximize impact in the fight against transnational organized crime (TOC), it is essential to double-down prevention efforts and to leverage multilateral platforms and regional partnerships, participants said at today’s OSCE Mediterranean Partnership of Co-operation Group meeting.

The meeting gathered over 150 representatives from OSCE and Partner countries, Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia.

“We can only be successful in fight against transnational organized crime when we co-ordinate our actions and take advantage of experiences and good practices, “we” meaning the participating States with the Mediterranean Partners, “we” the OSCE with other international organizations and bodies,” said Ambassador Adam Hałaciński, Permanent Representative of Poland to the OSCE, who chaired today’s meeting.

Ghada Waly, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said: “I strongly believe that we are now at a defining moment for our post-pandemic future. Weakened by the health emergency and the economic downturn, our world needs to mobilize against organized crime threats, if we are to build fairer societies, and emerge stronger from the crisis. To advance shared responses, we need to leverage our common framework: the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its protocols addressing human trafficking, migrant smuggling, and illicit firearms.”

One of the key issues explored was how the OSCE and its Mediterranean Partners could more concretely reflect implementing international provisions and conventions that facilitate transnational co-operation in their national strategies, such as the UNTOC and the Doha Declaration.

Alena Kupchyna, OSCE Co-ordinator of Activities to Address Transnational Threats, noted that during the pandemic, organized crime groups had taken advantage of the economic recession to create new avenues of profit. “The fight against TOC can be effective only if we have a common and shared agenda and if we include a strong prevention component in all our endeavours.” said Kupchyna.

The OSCE is working on expanding support to participating States through, among other initiatives, a new OSCE-wide project on youth crime prevention and a new project on asset recovery with the Mediterranean Partners for Co-operation.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) Daily Report 105/2021 issued on 8 May 2021

OSCE - Sat, 05/08/2021 - 19:03
SDGs SDGs:  16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions

Summary

  • In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded 663 ceasefire violations, including 104 explosions. In the previous reporting period, it recorded 160 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • In Luhansk region, the Mission recorded 144 ceasefire violations, including seven explosions. The majority of ceasefire violations were assessed as live-fire exercises inside the security zone. In the previous reporting period, it recorded 27 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske. It recorded ceasefire violations inside the disengagement area near Petrivske.
  • The Mission facilitated and monitored adherence to localized ceasefires to enable maintenance and operation of critical civilian infrastructure.
  • The SMM continued following up on the situation of civilians, including at four entry-exit checkpoints and five corresponding checkpoints of the armed formations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
  • 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 Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) Daily Report 104/2021 issued on 7 May 2021

OSCE - Fri, 05/07/2021 - 17:32
SDGs SDGs:  16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions

Summary

  • In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded 160 ceasefire violations, including 55 explosions. In the previous reporting period, it recorded 618 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • In Luhansk region, the Mission recorded 27 ceasefire violations, including 17 explosions. In the previous reporting period, it recorded 18 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • The Mission saw damage to residential houses in non-government-controlled Mineralne and Donetsk city’s Kyivskyi district, Donetsk region.
  • The SMM conducted a forced emergency landing of a long-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) near its base in government-controlled Stepanivka, due to dual GPS signal interference.*
  • Small-arms fire was assessed as directed at an SMM mini-UAV near government-controlled Lebedynske, Donetsk region.
  • The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske. It spotted people inside the disengagement area near Zolote.
  • The Mission facilitated and monitored adherence to localized ceasefires to enable maintenance and 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’s freedom of movement continued to be restricted, including at checkpoints of the armed formations near Zaichenko, in Khreshchatytske and Naberezhne, all in southern Donetsk region. SMM UAVs again experienced multiple instances of GPS signal interference.*
Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media meets with Ambassador of San Marino

OSCE - Fri, 05/07/2021 - 17:31
485963 Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Ton van den Brandt

On 5 May, Teresa Ribeiro, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media (RFoM), met with Ambassador Elena Molaroni Berguido to discuss the importance of media freedom in San Marino and in the broader OSCE region.

Ribeiro and Molaroni Berguido discussed issues such as tackling disinformation and “fake news”, a topic on which San Marino had hosted a high-level conference in 2019. They agreed to continue co-operation in this area, and talked about the RFoM’s upcoming webinar series on the subject matter.

Ribeiro and Molaroni Berguido also discussed legislation pertaining to media freedom and freedom of expression in San Marino. Ribeiro noted that decriminalization of defamation in the country would be an important step in further upholding the right to free expression.

Ribeiro and Molaroni Berguido agreed to continue dialogue and co-operation, with the latter extending an invitation for the Representative to visit San Marino in the near future.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media meets with Deputy Head of Delegation of Lithuania

OSCE - Fri, 05/07/2021 - 17:27
Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Ton van den Brandt

On 7 May 2021, Teresa Ribeiro, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media (RFoM) met with Dangira West, Chargé d’affaires a.i. of the Lithuanian Delegation, to discuss media freedom in Lithuania and the broader OSCE region. 

They discussed issues such as safety of media workers, in particular harassment of female journalists online, media regulation, and current challenges to the full implementation of OSCE media freedom commitments.

Ribeiro expressed her gratitude to Lithuania for its support in publishing the third edition of the Safety of Journalists Guidebook and underlined the importance of joint efforts of all participating States in the implementation of recommendations contained therein. West expressed support of the Lithuanian authorities to the RFOM activities on safety of female journalists online, as well as to the work being done to address hate speech and disinformation.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media meets with Chargé d'Affaires of the Permanent Mission of Greece to the OSCE

OSCE - Fri, 05/07/2021 - 17:23
485966

On 5 May, Teresa Ribeiro, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media (RFoM), met with Chargé d'Affaires Georgios Daskalopoulos, to discuss media freedom developments and challenges in Greece.

During the meeting, Ribeiro and Daskalopoulos discussed the issue of safety of journalists, in particular the murder of journalist Giorgos Karaivaz, which shocked the nation and people across Europe. Daskalopoulos informed Ribeiro that Greek authorities are treating the investigation with the highest priority, and are fully committed to bringing the perpetrators to justice.

They also discussed challenges surrounding the ability of journalists to report freely during public assemblies, following a new Greek National Plan on the Management of Public Outdoor Assemblies, and a number of recent incidents of excessive use of force by law enforcement during such gatherings. Daskalopoulos affirmed that independent bodies are investigating cases of possible excessive force. He also explained that the intention of the National Plan is to improve the modus operandi of law enforcement in safeguarding the right of freedom of assembly, as well as to protect journalists reporting on such public assemblies.

Ribeiro and Daskalopoulos agreed that the current pandemic has brought many new challenges to media freedom, and that a free, independent and pluralistic media can help the full realization of our human rights and build societies that are more inclusive.

Daskalopoulos highlighted the importance Greece places on media freedom in international bodies, including through its membership in the Group of Friends on Safety of Journalists at the UN and the OSCE.

Ribeiro concluded by reaffirming her readiness to support the Greek authorities, welcoming a continued close co-operation between the RFoM Office and the Greek Permanent Mission to the OSCE.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE SMM Spot Report 13/2021: Emergency landing of long-range unmanned aerial vehicle due to dual GPS signal interference

OSCE - Thu, 05/06/2021 - 22:36
SDGs SDGs:  16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions

On 6 May, the SMM was conducting an announced SMM long-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flight. The UAV had taken off from its base in government-controlled Stepanivka (54km north of Donetsk) at 12:30 and had immediately experienced dual GPS signal interference, assessed as caused by jamming, which then had occurred at intervals during the flight. At 16:01, while flying over areas near Kolosky (non-government-controlled, 46km south-east of Donetsk), the UAV had again experienced dual GPS signal interference, assessed as caused by jamming, which continued uninterrupted for the remainder of the flight.

Between 18:35 and 19:05, due to the risk of a loss of spatial control, the SMM had attempted three landings of the UAV at its base in its Emergency Control Mode, the first two of which had failed due to continuing dual GPS signal interference. On its third attempt, while dual GPS signal interference persisted, the aircraft completed an emergency landing in a field about 600m north of its designated landing spot. The SMM retrieved the UAV and an initial assessment did not reveal visible damage.

The Mission again highlights that since 21 March 2021 the SMM’s long-range UAVs have been experiencing increased levels of GPS signal interference on take-off and landing, affecting both of their GPS receivers, in areas near their base in Stepanivka (See SMM Spot Reports of 7 April 2021, 9 April 2021 and 24 April 2021). The Mission notes that, in each case, the source of GPS signal interference could have originated from anywhere within the radius of tens of kilometres from the UAVs’ positions.

The SMM yet again notes that 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, the ceasefire, the withdrawal of weapons, demining, as well as disengagement. The mandate also tasks the Mission to report on any restrictions of its freedom of movement or other impediments to fulfilment of its mandate.

These incidents hinder the Mission’s ability to conduct effective monitoring and reporting of the security situation in line with its mandate. Long-range UAVs are an essential part of SMM operations, especially at night and in areas where the Mission’s monitoring and freedom of movement are restricted. While the SMM cannot identify the precise source of jamming, it has observed the presence of jamming equipment on both sides of the contact line.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) Daily Report 103/2021 issued on 6 May 2021

OSCE - Thu, 05/06/2021 - 22:04
SDGs SDGs:  16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions

Summary

  • In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded 618 ceasefire violations, including 266 explosions. In the previous reporting period, it recorded 217 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • In Luhansk region, the Mission recorded 18 ceasefire violations, including nine explosions. In the previous reporting period, it recorded no ceasefire violations in the region.
  • The Mission corroborated reports of a 16-year-old boy injured due to a mine explosion on 6 April near non-government-controlled Slovianoserbsk, Luhansk region.
  • The SMM observed damage to a hospital in government-controlled Krasnohorivka, Donetsk region.
  • Small-arms fire was assessed as directed at SMM mini-unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) near non-government-controlled Oleksandrivka, Donetsk region and near non-government-controlled Smile, Luhansk region.
  • The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske. It spotted people inside the latter two areas.
  • The Mission facilitated and monitored adherence to localized ceasefires to enable maintenance and 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’s freedom of movement continued to be restricted, including at checkpoint of the armed formations near Staromykhailivka and near Kruta Balka in Donetsk region. The SMM UAVs again experienced multiple instances of GPS signal interference.*
Categories: Central Europe

Economic connectivity perspectives and operationalization of Euro-Asian transport corridors focus of OSCE and UNECE discussions

OSCE - Thu, 05/06/2021 - 15:47

Economic connectivity perspectives and the operationalization of Euro-Asian inland transport links (EATL) were the focus of two rounds of virtual consultations held by the OSCE and the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) on 25 March 2021 and 6 May 2021.

Around 30 representatives of Ministries of transport, national railway companies, port authorities and representatives of trade, customs and border management agencies, of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Ukraine, countries on the Trans-Caspian corridor providing a land bridge between Europe and China, participated in the events. 

Recognizing the need for strengthened inter-governmental stakeholder co-ordination efforts and a harmonization of transport policies, participants explored ways for making their transport routes operational and commercially attractive. Discussions focused on the institutional set-up options for designing a corridor management mechanism aimed at strengthening the transport routes that connect these countries with global markets.

Eni Gjergji, Economic Advisor of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities, emphasized the significant role of the OSCE in providing participating States a platform to discuss policy choices and foster inter-governmental dialogue. “The Operationalization of Euro-Asian Transport Links can play an instrumental role in improving the conditions for trade, leading ultimately to socioeconomic development and strengthening peace, security and stability in the region. The OSCE remains committed to facilitating meaningful and inclusive dialogue for a more effective Euro-Asian inland transport connectivity”, said Gjergji.

Roel Janssens, Economic Affairs Officer at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, said: “The consultations held upon the request of these five Governments aim at identifying concrete steps in overcoming the remaining interoperability challenges faced by the region, making these routes truly competitive for the inter-continental transportation of high-value and time sensitive cargo.”

These events are part of a series co-organized by the UNECE Sustainable Transport Division, in the framework of EATL, and the Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities.  The OSCE has been providing support to the UNECE’s Euro-Asian Transport Links project since 2006.

Categories: Central Europe

Social re-use of confiscated assets from organized crime focus of OSCE-supported workshop in Serbia

OSCE - Thu, 05/06/2021 - 10:46
485582 Communication and Media Relations Section Alexandra Taylor

On 5 May 2021, the Serbian Directorate for the Administration of Seized Assets, eight local civil society organizations (CSOs) and OSCE experts discussed opportunities and modalities to socially re-use assets confiscated from organized crime.

The current legislative framework in Serbia allows confiscated and seized assets to be re-used for social purposes, however, only a few CSOs  have put this practice into use. To further raise awareness on the positive impact of social re-use among CSOs, practices from Serbia as well as international ones were presented during the workshop.

“This project contributes to addressing transnational organized crime while enhancing regional co-operation in asset seizure, confiscation, management and re-use of assets, and reaffirms the Mission’s support in its implementation,” said Sarah Groen, Deputy Head of the OSCE Mission to Serbia.

Participants had the chance to directly communicate with Directorate representatives and explore  the procedure of submitting requests to re-use assets for social purposes.

Illicit activities of organized crime groups affect our societies and economies while presenting a serious threat to security and stability in the region. The practice through which confiscated assets are made available to communities not only allows the involvement of civil society in the fight against organized crime but  also increases  trust in  institutions and the rule of law.

The social re-use of confiscated assets in Serbia is supported by the Transnational Threats Department and the Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities regional project on asset recovery in South-Eastern Europe.

The United States of America, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom financially support this cross-dimensional project.

Categories: Central Europe

Statement by the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group

OSCE - Wed, 05/05/2021 - 20:35

Moscow/Paris/Washington, 5 May 2021 - The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, Stephane Visconti of France, and Andrew Schofer of the United States of America) released the following statement today: 

The Co-Chairs welcome Azerbaijan's release of Armenian detainees Robert Vardanyan, Samvel Shukhyan, and Seryan Tamrazyan and call on both parties to fully and expeditiously complete the exchange process for all prisoners, detainees, and remains, and to respect their obligations to ensure the humane treatment of detainees. 

Recalling their 13 April statement, the Co-Chairs urge the sides to exchange all data necessary to conduct effective demining of conflict regions and to lift restrictions on access to Nagorno-Karabakh, including for representatives of international humanitarian organizations.  The Co-Chairs encourage the sides to take concrete steps to create an atmosphere of mutual trust conducive to long-lasting peace by addressing the remaining areas of concern outlined in the 13 April statement of the Co-Chairs.  This includes resuming high-level political dialogue under the auspices of the Co-Chairs at the earliest opportunity.   

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) Daily Report 102/2021 issued on 5 May 2021

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

Summary

  • In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded 217 ceasefire violations, including 34 explosions. In the previous 24 hours, it recorded 64 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • In Luhansk region, the Mission recorded no ceasefire violations. In the previous 24 hours, it recorded 140 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • The SMM saw that the previously seen object that appears to be a camera had been relocated from the SMM’s camera mast at the Oktiabr mine to a separate mast nearby.
  • The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske. It spotted people inside the latter two areas during daytime.
  • The SMM facilitated and monitored adherence to localized ceasefires to enable 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 continued to monitor the security situation in south-east Kherson region and observed an unchanged security situation.
  • The Mission’s freedom of movement continued to be restricted. Two SMM unmanned aerial vehicles experienced GPS signal interference.*
Categories: Central Europe

Joint OSCE/Frontex meeting explores ways to strengthen document checks at borders in South-Eastern Europe

OSCE - Wed, 05/05/2021 - 17:08

Exploring ways to further strengthen capabilities for document checks at border controls in South-Eastern Europe was the focus of an online meeting held on 29 April 2021 as a follow-up to the 2019 Co-ordination Conference on Preventing Document Fraud — co-operation in South Eastern Europe. The meeting was jointly organized by the Border Security and Management Unit of the OSCE’s Transnational Threats Department and the Frontex Center of Excellence for Combating Document Fraud.

The meeting participants comprised 30 representatives from international and regional organizations, as well as competent national authorities from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. They discussed the strategic role of document checks, both for borders control and the identity chain.

In his opening remarks, Dennis Cosgrove, Head of the OSCE Border Security and Management Unit, highlighted the importance of efficient detection of forged documents to counter the illegal movement of terrorists, criminals and traffickers of all kinds, as well as the new forms of forged documents connected with COVID-19 and future vaccine passports. He stressed the benefits of co-operation and joint efforts to increase synergies among international, regional and national stakeholders and to maximize the benefits of training and support for South-Eastern European countries.

Claudio Kavrecic, Head of the Frontex Centre of Excellence for Combatting Document Fraud, emphasized the importance of linking strategy to operations at the border in document and identity control and the mutual benefits of co-operation in tackling document fraud worldwide.

“International organizations must have a common vision for the way forward in implementing a strategic approach, comparing existing capabilities and bringing up to the required level to fight document fraud,” said Szabolcs Horvath, Team Leader of the Frontex Centre of Excellence for Combating Document Fraud.

During the meeting, participants also familiarized themselves with a draft document that sets out a list of minimum recommended capabilities in document checks at borders. The document is a tool developed in part by drawing on the conclusions of the 2019 Conference. The document is a joint product of the organizations that participated in the 2019 Conference: International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), INTERPOL, International Organization for Migration (IOM), FRONTEX, OSCE, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe Secretariat (PCC SEE), with the support of Migration Asylum Refugee Regional Initiative (MARRI) and Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELEC)

While developing the document, the participating organizations called for South-Eastern European countries to contribute to the draft document, assessing its applicability to their national context and considering existing capabilities.

The OSCE’s POLIS platform, a workspace specifically designed for sharing information and collaborating on documents in a protected environment, was also presented during the meeting. It will be used by the participants and competent authorities to collaborate on and contribute to the draft document.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Mission to Montenegro marks World Press Freedom Day – a safe environment for journalists is critical

OSCE - Wed, 05/05/2021 - 10:28
Marina Živaljević

Congratulating Montenegrin journalists on World Press Day 2021, Siv-Katrine Leirtroe, Acting Head of Mission, said that this year’s theme, Information as a Public Good, emphasizes the need for information to be accurate, verified and timely.

“Journalists must have the freedom and security to perform their work,” said Leirtroe. She added that the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how important it is for trustworthy media to work freely, and provide a “window into the world” to counter the isolation brought on by the pandemic.

“World Press day is a time to reflect and remind ourselves of the immeasurable contribution made by all the media around the world since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Leirtroe.

“The Mission will continue to support the media and institutions in their efforts create a safe environment in which journalists can perform their ever important role professionally and ethically,” said Leirtroe.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) Daily Report 101/2021 issued on 4 May 2021

OSCE - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 18:48
SDGs SDGs:  16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions

Summary

  • In Donetsk region, between the evenings of 30 April and 3 May, the SMM recorded 287 ceasefire violations, including 45 explosions. In the previous reporting period, it recorded 95 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • In Luhansk region, between the evenings of 30 April and 3 May, the Mission recorded 166 ceasefire violations, including 14 explosions. In the previous reporting period, it recorded 66 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • Small-arms fire was assessed as directed at an SMM mini-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on 2 May in non-government-controlled Oleksandrivka, Donetsk region.
  • The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske. It spotted people inside the disengagement areas near Zolote and Petrivske and recorded ceasefire violations inside the latter area.
  • The Mission facilitated and monitored adherence to localized ceasefires to enable maintenance and 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 SMM visited four border crossing points in Donetsk and Luhansk regions and monitored border areas outside government control in Donetsk region.
  • The Mission’s freedom of movement continued to be restricted, including at and near border crossing points outside government control in Luhansk region and at a checkpoint of the armed formations in southern Donetsk region. Its mini-UAVs again experienced multiple instances of GPS signal interference.*
  • The Mission monitored two gatherings dedicated to the events of 2 May 2014 in Odessa.
  • The SMM monitored the security situation in south-east Kherson region.
Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media meets with Ambassador of Andorra

OSCE - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 16:22
485327

On 4 May, Teresa Ribeiro, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media (RFoM), met with Ambassador Jaume Serra Serra to discuss the media freedom situation in the Principality of Andorra and in the broader OSCE region.

Ribeiro and Serra Serra exchanged views on the media landscape in Andorra and the challenges brought on by the pandemic. They discussed issues pertinent to the legislation in the area of freedom of the media and freedom of expression. Taking note that no cases have been submitted before the Andorran courts against journalists or other media actors, Ribeiro noted that decriminalization of defamation in Andorra would be a significant step in further upholding the right to free expression. Ribeiro and Serra agreed to continue dialogue and co-operation to promote pluralistic media and access to information.

Categories: Central Europe

The fourth Border Security and Management for Senior Leadership course: Completion of module two

OSCE - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 14:51
485297

Twenty-seven officers and managers of various border security and law enforcement agencies from fifteen countries across the OSCE region completed the second module of the one-year Border Security and Management for Senior Leadership course on 29 April 2021. Due to the pandemic and the restrictions on travel, the traditional face-to-face phase of the second module was held via video teleconferencing.

The OSCE Border Management Staff College (BMSC) conducted the course in collaboration with the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance (DCAF).

Participants represented Armenia, France, Greece, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Tajikistan, and Ukraine, as well as three of the OSCE’s Partners for Co-operation: Afghanistan, Egypt, and Jordan.

The second module offered a comprehensive teaching curriculum to enhance competence and upgrade leadership and management skills of mid-to-senior level border officers. “Two weeks of video conferencing instead of face-to-face learning proved to be quite successful due to the discipline and engagement of the participants, as well as the commitment of the BMSC and DCAF expert teams,” said Nevenka Tomovic, Border Security Programme Expert for Education and Training at the DCAF and the leading expert of module two.

Vitaut Rudnik, an organizational development and management expert and instructor of the module, noted that it is very interesting “to adapt traditional teaching methods to the new format and apply innovative strategies to keep the participants diligently involved in the learning process.”

Key topics addressed during the online session included management, leadership, integrity, managerial decisions in a crisis, project management, and planning. Sirarpi Ohanyan, Lieutenant, Inspector of the Customs Service of the Republic of Armenia and course participant said that the sessions dealing with psychological and organizational aspects of border management were of particular interest to her.

Following the conclusion of Module 2, participants are now undergoing post-module tasks and embarking on the final stage of the one-year course, which concentrates on identifying current and emerging trends in border security management.

The course is accredited by the Estonian Quality Assessment Council for Higher Education (EKKA) and equals an internationally recognized one-year postgraduate diploma course.

Categories: Central Europe

Weekly Update from the OSCE Observer Mission at Russian Checkpoints Gukovo and Donetsk based on information as of 4 May 2021

OSCE - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 13:58

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 increased 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 the first jab of the vaccine, and 59 per cent have received both.

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 increased from 8,256 to 8,551 per day at both BCPs compared to last week. During the reporting period, the majority of border crossings were to Ukraine, with an average net flow of 989 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 seven, compared to 13 last week; five persons crossed into the Russian Federation while two persons 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, 12 families were observed crossing into the Russian Federation while 14 families were observed crossing into Ukraine, compared to the previous reporting period when seven families were observed crossing into the Russian Federation and five families were 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 slight decrease in the overall number of buses crossing the border at both BCPs (350 compared to 355 observed during the previous week). There were 167 buses bound for the Russian Federation and 183 bound for Ukraine.

Among the bus connections observed by the OTs, the following “irregular” route or destination: "Luhansk – Sevastopol" was noted.

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.

Trucks

During the reporting period, the OTs observed a slight decrease in the overall number of trucks crossing the border at both BCPs (707 compared to 728 during the previous reporting week); 370 at the Gukovo BCP and 337 at the Donetsk BCP, 342 of these trucks crossed into the Russian Federation, and 365 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” plates.

The OTs also continued to observe tanker trucks crossing the border in both directions. During the reporting period, the OTs observed an increase in the overall number of tanker trucks crossing the border at both BCPs (49 compared to 42 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 increased from 97 to 123. Of the total number of trucks scanned, all 123 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 a decrease in the overall number of minivans crossing the border at both BCPs (133 compared to 176 observed during the previous week); 75 crossed into the Russian Federation and another 58 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 30 occasions; the OTs assessed that 16 trains were travelling to the Russian Federation and the remaining 14 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 and Lithuanian licence plates.

On 27 April at 23:00, the OT at the Donetsk BCP observed a white minivan and a white truck with “LPR” plates entering the BCP from the Russian Federation and parking at the customs control area. Both vehicles had the sign “LPR Post” displayed on the sides (in Russian). After undergoing border control procedures, the vehicles left for Ukraine.

On 28 April at 08:05, the OT at the Donetsk BCP observed an ambulance entering the BCP from Ukraine and parking at the customs control area. The OT noticed a driver and six individuals on board. After undergoing border control procedures, the ambulance crossed into the Russian Federation at 09:15.

On 28 April at 20:35, the OT at the Gukovo BCP observed a police vehicle type “UAZ Patriot” entering the BCP from the Russian Federation and parking next to the main building. The OT noticed three police officers entering the building. At 20:45, the police officers, escorting an elderly person, returned to the vehicle and left for the Russian Federation.  

On 28 April at 13:51, the OT at the Donetsk BCP observed a group of six brand-new ambulances type “GAZelle Next” without licence plates entering the BCP from the Russian Federation and parking at the customs control area. All vehicles had the inscription “Urgent Medical Help” (in Russian) on the side. The group was accompanied by an ambulance with “LPR” plates, bearing an inscription “Sanitary” on the side. After undergoing border and customs control procedures, including an X-ray check, the ambulances left for Ukraine at 17:10.

On 30 April at 10:53, the OT at the Gukovo BCP observed an ambulance with Russian Federation licence plates arriving from the Russian Federation and parking behind the main building. At 11:20, the ambulance drove back to the Russian Federation. The OT was unable to notice any other details from its position.

The truck with “LPR” plates carrying 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 the last Weekly Update is still parked at the BCP’s customs control area facing in the direction of the Russian Federation. On 28 April, during a repeated customs control procedure, the cargo compartment of the truck was fully opened, and the OT was able to notice four jet engines loaded on the cargo area of the truck, instead of two, as reported previously.

For trends and figures at a glance covering the period from 30 March 2021 to 4 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

Multilateral engagement key to open and secure cyberspace

OSCE - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 12:18

VIENNA/STOCKHOLM, 4 May 2021 — With society more interconnected through technology than ever before, multilateral engagement is key to building confidence and trust to ensure an open and secure cyberspace, participants agreed during the opening session of the OSCE-wide Cyber/ICT Security Conference held online today.

“Due to the global nature of cyberspace, attention is increasingly turning to multilateral organizations, including the OSCE, to promote dialogue for maintaining an open, secure and reliable internet. With its confidence-building measures, the OSCE is a frontrunner in building trust in cyberspace,” said Ambassador Ulrika Funered, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the OSCE, during her opening remarks

This year’s annual OSCE-wide Cyber/ICT Security Conference is organized by Sweden’s 2021 OSCE Chairpersonship with the support of the OSCE Transnational Threats Department’s Co-ordination Cell. The Cyber/ICT Security Conference has brought together around 150 policymakers and experts from across the OSCE region.

The Conference is also co-hosted by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) and it will form part of the 2021 Stockholm Forum on Peace and Development, where OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Ann Linde, OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid, United Nations Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed and others will participate.

The Conference will explore the opportunities and challenges presented by information communication technologies (ICTs) in conflict prevention in cyberspace and how to reduce risks of conflict stemming from the use of ICTs. Panelists and participants will also share their experiences from across countries, organizations and sectors, with a particular focus on the OSCE and its 16 cyber/ICT security Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs).

Reflecting on the reliance on ICTs during the COVID-19 pandemic, Alena Kupchyna, Co-ordinator of the OSCE’s Transnational Threats Department, said, “With this accelerated digitalization of our society, we are increasingly looking to multilateral organizations to facilitate a stable and secure cyberspace.” She outlined how the OSCE supports national, regional and international efforts in cyber/ICT security and what part CBMs play in promoting the safe and secure use of ICTs as well as their contribution to the responsible use of cyberspace.

The Conference features three sessions that will provide participants with an opportunity to learn about how OSCE field operations are working on cyber/ICT security (session 2); how CBMs and lessons learned from the OSCE can be used in the Middle East (session 1); and the role of social media in peacebuilding (session 3). Session 1 on preventing conflict and building trust in cyberspace in the Middle East, and session 3 on new frontiers in peacebuilding and the role of social media, are also part of the 2021 Stockholm Forum on Peace and Development organized by the SIPRI and Sweden’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Categories: Central Europe

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