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OSCE MG co-chairs visit Azerbaijan’s occupied lands

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Co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (MG) have visited Azerbaijan’s occupied territories.

During the visit, OSCE MG co-chairs, Andrew Schofer (US), Stefan Visconti (France), Igor Popov (Russia) and Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, personal representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, got acquainted with the situation on the contact line between the Azerbaijani and Armenian troops.Previously, the OSCE MG co-chairs visited Azerbaijan and held talks with the country’s leadership.

Message to politicians from Head of OSCE Mission to BiH

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With upcoming elections in BiH, Ambassador Bruce G. Berton, Head of the OSCE Mission to BiH, has sent a strong and decisive message to all politicians: the rhetoric of division must be put aside. Ambassador Berton indeed asserted that the politicians have the responsibility to create a favorable political climate in order to achieve a higher level of prosperity and security in BiH, and ultimately improve the quality of lives of its citizens. Though the international community is willing to support political leaders in finding compromises, progress must be achieved by political leaders.

Ukraine: ORDLO militants put obstacles to OSCE’s monitors

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Illegal armed groups in separate areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions (ORDLO) continue limiting freedom of movement of monitors of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) and jeopardize their work, Ukraine’s representatives of the Joint Control and Coordination Center (JCCC) have reported.
“Since early 2018, the OSCE SMM continues to register cases of threats, limitations of access to military facilities and freedom of movement of its patrols on the territory temporarily uncontrolled by the government of Ukraine”, the press center of the ATO headquarters said on its Facebook page on Sunday morning. “At the same time, populists from ORDLO simulate teeming activity, having issued the second “order” in the past six months banning the unjustified limitation of freedom of movement of OSCE monitors. After issuing the first “order” late August 2017, the number of these restrictions not only did not decrease but even increased. For example, during the first month when “the order” was in effect the OSCE CMM recorded 46 cases of these violations”, the headquarters said.

Report from OSCE says that Eighty-five civilians killed in Donbas this year

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Eighty-five civilians, including an OSCE representative, have been killed in the conflict in eastern Ukraine since the beginning of 2017, according to the latest data from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission

OSCE SMM Principal Deputy Chief Monitor Alexander Hug said this at a briefing in Kyiv on Friday, Ukrinform correspondent reports.

“I would like to take this opportunity to reflect also on the victims of the conflict. This year so far, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission has confirmed the death of 85 people and the injury of 384. Among them was a colleague of ours, Joseph Stone, killed by what probably was an anti-tank mine near Pryshyb on April 23,” Hug said. According to him, while the conflict raged in eastern Ukraine in 2017, observers see the willingness and ability to make things better to improve the lives of the civilian population.

Lavrov, Tillerson Discuss Syria, Ukraine, N Korea, Recruitment of Journalists

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The two cabinet-level officials met during the summit of Foreign Ministers of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), one of the few organizations that both the US and Russia are members of. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry press release, the two officials discussed the next steps in resolving Syria’s civil conflict through establishing a negotiation process that would incorporate all of the Syrian political powers. The negotiations can go on at various sites, including the Geneva conference on Syria and the upcoming Syrian National Dialogue Congress that will take place in Sochi. Addressing Ukraine, Lavrov once again stated that the Minsk accord of February 2015 has no alternatives and must be fulfilled. He insisted that it is Kiev that has to implement the points of the agreement. Lavrov and Tillerson found some common ground regarding North Korea, agreeing that Pyongyang must strictly abide by UN Security Council resolutions. Meanwhile, Sergey Lavrov underscored that the escalation of tensions brought about by aggressive US rhetoric and military preparations in the vicinity of the Korean Peninsula is unacceptable.

Tillerson holds tough line on Russia sanctions over Ukraine

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U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held his tough line on Russia during a visit to Europe on Thursday, saying in front of his Russian counterpart that Washington would keep sanctions in place until Russian forces withdraw from Ukraine, according to Reuters. The conflict between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists has claimed more than 10,000 lives since it erupted in 2014. Russia denies accusations it fomented the conflict and provided arms and fighters, as reported by Reuters. Speaking at a meeting of foreign ministers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Tillerson went even further in spelling out Russia’s involvement in the conflict and the consequences it faced than he had the day before when he met NATO allies in Brussels. “We should be clear about the source of this violence”, Tillerson said, referring to increasing ceasefire violations recorded by the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission of observers in eastern Ukraine.

According to U.S Ambassador Volker the meeting with Surkov on Donbas was a “step back”

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U.S. Ambassador Kurt Volker, the Trump administration’s special envoy charged with ending the war in Ukraine, says that his recent meeting with Vladislav Surkov, an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Belgrade on November 13 on a UN peacekeeping mission in Donbas, was a “step back,” according to the U.S. edition of the POLITICO magazine. “Our third meeting was a step back,” Volker told POLITICO. “They went back to their original proposal again. I don’t know what the next step after this is. It could be that that happened for completely other reasons having nothing to do with Ukraine, just where we are in our U.S.-Russian relationship. It could have had to do with the lack of a bilateral meeting between President Putin and President Trump.” Volker recalled that Moscow had proposed deploying a UN mission to protect OSCE monitors in Donbas. Washington, in turn, said that peacekeepers should monitor the ceasefire throughout the entire area – from the contact line to the Ukrainian-Russian border stretch between Russia and the self-proclaimed republics.

 Greminger : Ongoing efforts to implement agenda create unique opportunity for progress

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Having successfully overcome the political crisis and the ongoing efforts to implement the reform agenda create a unique opportunity for progress, said OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger during a two-day visit to Skopje.The Secretary General met President Gjorge Ivanov, Speaker of Parliament Talat Xhaferi, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov, as well as senior representatives of parliamentary groups and members of civil society, the OSCE Mission to Skopje said in a press release.He emphasized the need to focus on long-term structural reforms in areas such as the rule of law, freedom of the media, democratic governance, police and the security sector. “The OSCE, its Institutions and in particular the OSCE Mission to Skopje will continue to work in partnership with the national institutions in support of the agreed reforms in key areas”. Greminger encouraged further steps to build a cohesive society and advance the implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement. He also welcomed efforts to strengthen good neighbourly relations, including the signing of a friendship agreement with Bulgaria.

Greminger’s first official visit to Macedonia : Dimitrov welcome OSCE’s supports

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The current and future activities of the government with special emphasis on Action Plan 3-6-9 which enters the second phase of its implementation were discussed at Friday’s meeting between FM Nikola Dimitrov and OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger, who pays his first official visit to Macedonia after taking office in July 2017.Dimitrov in this direction presented priority areas in which efforts to act and improvement of situation are underlined as rule of law and judiciary, human rights and media freedom, electoral legislation and where recommendations and support from OSCE are welcome, Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a press release.Although OSCE is organisation which generally has a mandate to manage challenges, in the current Macedonian context is prepared to consider ways to exploit favourable opportunities and to grab the positive momentum for democratic development of the country, Greminger said. He also expressed satisfaction from promising reform path, the vision of the future and the expressed encouragement.

OSCE; Russia to Stop Branding Media as ‘Foreign Agents’

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The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir expressed his concern on Thursday about measures by the United States requiring the RT broadcaster to register as “foreign agent” and the subsequent tit-for-tat response from Moscow. On Wednesday, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, the State Duma, passed a legislative amendment that would allow foreign media working in Russia and funded from abroad to be classified as foreign agents. The move came as a response to the United States’ pressure on Russian media, including the US Department of Justice’s demand that RT America registers under US Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). “Branding media entities as ‘foreign agents’ is a dangerous practice, as it can narrow the space for freedom of the media…. I call on both the United States and the Russian Federation to reconsider and refrain from requiring media entities to register as ‘foreign agents’ and not take further steps”, said OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir.

 

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