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Press release by OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs

VIENNA, July 23, 2014 – The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Ambassadors Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, James Warlick of the United States of America, and Pierre Andrieu of France) met separately with the Foreign Minister of Armenia, Mr. Edward Nalbandian, and the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Mr. Elmar Mammadyarov, on July 22 in Brussels. The Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, also participated in the meetings.

The Co-Chairs expressed their serious concern about the increase in tensions and violence, including the targeted killings of civilians, along the Line of Contact and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. They urged the parties to commit themselves to avoiding casualties and rejected the deliberate targeting of villages and the civilian population. They called on the Foreign Ministers to defuse tensions and adhere to the terms of the ceasefire.

The Co-Chairs and Foreign Ministers also discussed possible agenda items for a presidential summit, underscoring the importance of a meeting between the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan for achieving progress in peace negotiations. They also discussed meetings which could take place in New York on the margins of the UN General Assembly.

The Co-Chairs continue to review possible security confidence building measures and people-to-people programs with the parties. They believe that such programs build the trust and confidence necessary for a lasting peace.

In Vienna, the Co-Chairs briefed the countries of the Minsk Group about the status of peace negotiations.

23 July 2014
VIENNA, July 23, 2014 – The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Ambassadors Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, James Warlick of the United States of America, and Pierre Andrieu of France) met separately with the Foreign Minister of Armenia, Edward Nalbandian, and the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Elmar Mammadyarov, on July 22 in Brussels. The Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, also participated in the meetings...
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OSCE representative calls for release of journalist abducted by separatists, denounces new cases of grave media freedom violations in Eastern Ukraine

VIENNA, 23 July 2014 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today condemned the abduction of freelance journalist Anton Skiba in Donetsk and called for his immediate release.

Skiba was abducted on 22 July by armed separatists at a hotel in Donetsk. He had been assisting a CNN film crew. His current whereabouts are unknown.

“I strongly condemn this incident. Journalists must not become targets just for fulfilling their professional duties,” Mijatović said. “I call on those responsible to immediately release Skiba.”

Mijatović also expressed concern about other recent cases of media intimidation by the separatist groups in Eastern Ukraine:

  • 19 July – the brief  detention, confinement and harassment of 10 foreign journalists in Donetsk including representatives of Dagens Nyheter, BBC, The Daily Beast, Nieuwsuur, Time and Russia Today. The journalists were attempting to report on the Malaysia Airlines plane crash;
  • 15 July – an attack on Natalia Filatova, a journalist with the Novosti Donbassa news portal. The journalist sustained minor injuries;
  • 6 July – the abduction of journalist Darya Shatalova and an attack on and abduction of editor Sergei Sakadynskiy, both with Politika 2.0 news portal in Luhansk. The same day an armed group robbed the news portal’s office, stealing all the equipment. Both journalists were released the next day.

​“This hostile practice of obstructing the work of journalists and media outlets cannot be tolerated and has to immediately stop. I sincerely hope that there will be an opportunity for law enforcement officials to investigate this continuing violence against media representatives in Eastern Ukraine and arrest the perpetrators to put an end to the climate of impunity,” Mijatović said.

The Representative said she was worried about plans voiced on 21 July by the self-proclaimed defence minister of the so-called ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ to effectively ban all media representatives from working in the conflict zone and the territories adjacent to the military compounds.

She also noted reports that on 15 July the self-proclaimed authorities of the so-called ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ announced the switching off of all Ukrainian television channels in Donetsk.

“Access to information and safety of media workers need to be ensured at all times by all, and those in control of the situation have a full responsibility for this,” Mijatović added. 

23 July 2014
VIENNA, 23 July 2014 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today condemned the abduction of freelance journalist Anton Skiba in Donetsk and called for his immediate release...
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OSCE media freedom representative welcomes release of blogger in Tajikistan, expresses hope for charges to be dropped

VIENNA, 23 July 2014 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today welcomed yesterday’s release of Alexander Sodiqov, a blogger and commentator on Tajik and Central Asian politics, from a pre-trial detention centre in Dushanbe and expressed hope that the criminal charges brought against him would be dropped altogether. 

“I welcome the fact that Sodiqov was allowed to return to his family,” Mijatović said. “However, I am concerned that the criminal charges against him remain and hope that they will be abandoned.”

Sodiqov is currently prohibited from leaving the country. He was detained in Khorog in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province on 16 June and was later charged with high treason and espionage. The University of Exeter, as well as Sodiqov’s co-researchers, said that Sodiqov was in Tajikistan to conduct research for the university’s project on conflict prevention.

The OSCE Representative said her Office would continue to follow Sodiqov’s case. She also reiterated her Office’s readiness to assist the authorities in Tajikistan on advancing the free media and free expression.

Mijatović has previously expressed concern over the case (http://www.osce.org/fom/119926).

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at www.osce.org/fom; Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on Facebook.com/osce.rfom.

23 July 2014
VIENNA, 23 July 2014 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today welcomed yesterday’s release of Alexander Sodiqov, a blogger and commentator on Tajik and Central Asian politics, from a pre-trial detention centre in Dushanbe and expressed hope that the criminal charges brought against him would be dropped altogether...
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Press statement by the Trilateral Contact Group

KYIV, 22 July 2014 - The Trilateral Contact Group, consisting of senior representatives of Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the OSCE Chairperson-in Office, (President Kuchma, Ambassador Zurabov, Ambassador Tagliavini respectively), met on 22 July 2014 and held another round of video consultations with representatives of separatists operating in eastern Ukraine.

It was a follow-up to several meetings and consultations in the same format, which had taken place in the aftermath of the crash of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on 17 July 2014 at Grabovo, in eastern Ukraine.

During these meetings, including the latest one of 22 July, it had been possible to achieve progress on a number of problems emanating from the situation in the aftermath of the MH17 tragedy. This includes the initiating of repatriation of most of the bodies of the victims of the plane crash and handing over of the airplane’s “black boxes” to international experts.

In all the video consultations, the Contact Group highlighted the importance of secure access to the crash site and safety for the recovery and investigation workers.

The Trilateral Contact Group noted with satisfaction that it had been able to be instrumental in the easing of tension and in solving a number of problems, which had arisen out of the airplane crash of 17 July 2014.

The Trilateral Contact Group notes the fact that it was able to make use of its already established communication channels with representatives of separatists for the above purposes.

Together with the efforts to provide assistance for the solving of problems arising from the airplane crash tragedy, the Trilateral Contact Group will continue its determined efforts aimed at achieving a sustainable peaceful solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

22 July 2014
KYIV, 22 July 2014 - The Trilateral Contact Group, consisting of senior representatives of Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the OSCE Chairperson-in Office, (President Kuchma, Ambassador Zurabov, Ambassador Tagliavini respectively), met on 22 July 2014 and held another round of video consultations with representatives of separatists operating in eastern Ukraine.
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OSCE representative calls on Russian authorities to immediately release Ukrainian journalist

VIENNA, 21 July 2014 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today called on Russian authorities to immediately release Yevgeny Agarkov, a journalist with the Ukrainian 2+2 television channel.

On 18 July Agarkov was arrested by authorities in Voronezh in southeast Russia for working in the country  without an accreditation issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry. A district court found Agarkov guilty of working illegally in Russia and assessed an administrative fine of 2,000 roubles (approximately €42) and ordered his expulsion from the country. Agarkov is in custody at the immigration detention centre near Voronezh since 18 July.

“I call on the authorities to immediately release Agarkov and refrain from such disproportionally restrictive measures in the future,” Mijatović said. “This decision is excessive and it essentially bans the journalist from reporting.”

“Accreditation should not be, in effect, a work permit, so that the failure to obtain this bars journalists from fulfilling their professional duties,” she said.

Agarkov was in Voronezh to cover the case of detained Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko.

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

21 July 2014
VIENNA, 21 July 2014 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today called on Russian authorities to immediately release Yevgeny Agarkov, a journalist with the Ukrainian 2+2 television channel...
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OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, delivering her regular report to the OSCE Permanent Council, Vienna, 28 November 2013.
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After tragic crash of the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 in Ukraine, CiO offers condolences and OSCE support

Bern, July 17, 2014 - Didier Burkhalter, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Swiss Foreign Minister, expressed his sincere condolences to the families of the many victims of the shocking crash of the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukrainian territory. He said that the circumstances which led to this tragedy had to be investigated in a thorough and impartial manner and commended Ukraine’s readiness to involve international expertise.

Burkhalter welcomed the two rounds of video conference-based talks of the Trilateral Contact Group with representatives of separatist groups who agreed to securing the site of the crash, to providing safe access to the site for rescue teams, national and international investigators, and SMM monitors, and to cooperating with competent Ukrainian authorities on further practical questions in the course of the rescue operation. He commended the respective efforts of the Trilateral Contact Group, the Special Monitoring Mission, and other actors involved. The OSCE stands ready to support Ukraine in this difficult rescue operation in every possible way, he added. 

Too many innocent civilians have already died in this conflict, Burkhalter stressed. It is the common responsibility of all to put the security of the people first and now redouble efforts to work towards a sustainable ceasefire, he added. The OSCE will continue its efforts to support Ukraine in de-escalating the situation, Burkhalter concluded.

18 July 2014
Bern, July 17, 2014 - Didier Burkhalter, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Swiss Foreign Minister, expressed his sincere condolences to the families of the many victims of the shocking crash of the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukrainian territory. He said that the circumstances which led to this tragedy had to be investigated in a thorough and impartial manner and commended Ukraine’s readiness to involve international expertise.
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Press statement by the Trilateral Contact Group

The Trilateral Contact Group of senior representatives of Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the OSCE convened in Kiev on July 17, 2014.

In view of the terrible crash of a Malaysian airliner in the region of Donetsk and in order to agree on a number of urgent practical measures, the Group held a video conference with representatives of separatist groups in Donetsk.

The representatives of separatist groups in Donetsk committed to the following:

1.   As a matter of priority, they shall close off the site of the catastrophe and allow local authorities to start preparations for the recovery of bodies;

2.   they shall provide safe access and security guarantees to the national investigation commission, including international investigators, in the area under their control;

3.   they shall provide safe access and security guarantees to OSCE monitors;

4.     they shall cooperate with the relevant authorities of Ukraine on all practical questions arising in the course of the recovery and investigation works.

18 July 2014
The Trilateral Contact Group of senior representatives of Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the OSCE convened in Kiev on July 17, 2014.
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Recommendations from final report on presidential election in Ukraine focus of discussions at OSCE / ODIHR event in Kyiv

KYIV, 15 July 2014 – Electoral reform in Ukraine and follow-up to recommendations made in the final report of the election observation mission sent by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) for the 2014 early presidential election were the focus of a roundtable event in Kyiv today.

"ODIHR is committed to upholding the credibility and visibility of election observation, and the Office’s work in this area is anchored in basic principles of impartiality and professionalism," ODIHR Director Michael Georg Link said in his opening remarks at the event.

"This, our tenth election observation mission in Ukraine, observed a very high degree of transparency and co-operation on the part of the Ukrainian authorities. The election was characterized by the clear resolve of the authorities to hold what was a genuine election largely in line with international commitments and with a respect for fundamental freedoms in the vast majority of the country. This was despite the hostile security environment in two eastern regions and the increasing attempts to derail the process by armed groups in these parts of the country.”

Along with assessing where the presidential election had met these standards, the final report offers recommendations for addressing areas where it had fallen short. Eight of the 29 recommendations in the report were listed as priorities, focusing on the legal framework, election administration, the complaints and appeals process, special measures for voter registration, campaign finance and the role of the National Broadcasting Council.

These recommendations were at the centre of discussion among representatives from ODIHR and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as those from the Ukrainian parliament, the Central Election Commission, civil society and international organizations.

“The assessment of an election is only the first step toward offering concrete recommendations to help a country improve its electoral system,” said Tana de Zulueta, who headed the ODIHR election observation mission. “The discussion today took this further, examining how these recommendations can be integrated into the electoral reform process in Ukraine to deliver such improvements.”

The roundtable meeting was part of a visit organized by ODIHR in line with OSCE commitments obliging participating States to follow up on recommendations made in election mission reports.

“Ukraine remains committed to the programme declared by the President and Government on the implementation of recommendations by the OSCE/ODIHR mission with a view to further improving electoral rules, which are an inherent component of a political system,” said Oleksii Makeev, Head of the Department of Policy Analysis and Planning of Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry.

15 July 2014
KYIV, 15 July 2014 – Electoral reform in Ukraine and follow-up to recommendations made in the final report of the election observation mission sent by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) for the 2014 early presidential election were the focus of a roundtable event in Kyiv today...
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Tana de Zulueta (l), Head of the ODIHR election observation mission for the 25 May early presidential elections in Ukraine, and Michael Georg Link (r), Director of ODIHR, taking part in the discussion of follow-up to the report at the roundtable event in Kyiv, 14 July 2014.
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OSCE supports study visit of defence officers from Turkmenistan to ammunition sites in Moldova

ASHGABAT, 15 July 2014 – Five senior officials from the Defence Ministry of Turkmenistan discussed practices of safe storage of small arms and light weapons and conventional ammunition during an OSCE-supported study visit to Moldova that concluded in Chisinau today.

The visit was organized by the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat in close co-operation with the OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation, the OSCE Mission to Moldova and the Defence Ministry of Moldova. The visit aimed to familiarize the delegation from Turkmenistan with OSCE best practices and Moldovan expertise in the area of security and management of small arms and light weapons (SALW) and conventional ammunition (CA).

“Surplus stocks of SALW and CA continue to represent a danger to the security and environment across the OSCE region. All OSCE participating States have commited to ensuring the secure storage and safe destruction of surplus stocks of SALW and CA,” said Richard Wheeler, Political Officer of the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat.

“We strongly believe that such visits provide valuable contribution to the exchange of experiences among participating States in the area of SALW and help upgrade stockpile management and security measures.”

The delegation visited ammunition depots in Floresti and Bulboaca as well as the Brigade in Balti and the military base in Danceni. The modernization of arms storage facilities, destruction of surplus items and OSCE-supported assistance programmes in this field were among the topics that the Turkmen officials discussed with their Moldovan counterparts and OSCE experts.

15 July 2014
ASHGABAT, 15 July 2014 – Five senior officials from the Defence Ministry of Turkmenistan discussed practices of safe storage of small arms and light weapons and conventional ammunition during an OSCE-supported study visit to Moldova that concluded in Chisinau today...
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Serbia as 2015 Chairmanship to work on crisis resolution, water governance, youth and security, Foreign Minister tells OSCE Permanent Council

VIENNA, 15 July 2014 – Addressing crises and conflicts in the OSCE region, advancing regional co-operation with a special focus on Western Balkans, stepping up work on youth and security and promoting water governance are among the priorities of the incoming Serbian Chairmanship in 2015, First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Serbia Ivica Dačić told OSCE participating States today.

He underlined the “unique” nature of the consecutive Chairmanships of Switzerland in 2014 and Serbia 2015, and said that the two countries, working in a concerted manner, “have established a real partnership which could serve as an example and perhaps as a model for the future”.  With 2015 marking the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Helsinki Final Act, the key document of the OSCE, Dačić stressed the commitment of Serbia to continue the “Helsinki+40” process to reform and guide the Organization.

Action taken by the OSCE and the Swiss Chairmanship to address the Ukraine crisis provided important initial steps, Dačić said. He stressed the need to achieve sustainable cessation of hostilities to pave way for an inclusive national dialogue and stabilization of the situation.  He expressed his full support for the work of the Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine and for the extension of its mandate without delay. He also stressed the need for an early decision on deployment of OSCE border observers.

“As incoming Chairmanship, we will invest all our efforts in strengthening the OSCE role in Ukraine,” he said.

The 2015 Serbian Chairmanship will pay particular attention to the Western Balkans, with a focus on regional co-operation and reconciliation as part of conflict rehabilitation, Dačić said. He reiterated Serbia’s “full commitment to the EU-led dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and to the implementation of all arrangements based on the Brussels agreement of April 2013”. Dačić said he intended to visit all OSCE field presences, including the OSCE Mission in Kosovo.

On protracted conflicts, the Serbian Chairmanship will continue to support all agreed established formats and promote mediation activities, he said, stressing that “regardless of our Organization’s efforts, ideas and proposals, the main responsibility lies with the parties involved”.

The unprecedented catastrophic floods in the Balkans justify the need to further promote water governance and disaster risk reduction, and this will be the main topic of the Serbian Chairmanship’s work in the economic and environmental dimension in 2015, Dačić said.

Youth must be put higher on the OSCE agenda, the Minister noted, proposing the development of an Action Plan on Youth and Security as the foundation of the OSCE’s work in the future. He added that the Serbian Chairmanship’s work to address transnational threats will also be carried out from the perspective of crime prevention and protection of young people.

“We have to work on rebuilding trust and confidence among participating States,” Dačić said. He stressed that the incoming Serbian Chairmanship would continue to engage in the process to strengthen the visibility and effectiveness of the OSCE and to increase security and stability in its region.

15 July 2014
VIENNA, 15 July 2014 – Addressing crises and conflicts in the OSCE region, advancing regional co-operation with a special focus on Western Balkans, stepping up work on youth and security and promoting water governance are among the priorities of the incoming Serbian Chairmanship in 2015, First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Serbia Ivica Dačić told OSCE participating States today...
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The First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Serbia Ivica Dačić, addresses the OSCE Permanent Council, alongside Ambassador Vuk Žugić, the head of the Permanent Mission of Serbia in Vienna, 15 July 2014.
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