VIENNA/STOCKHOLM, 20 October 2021 — OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde and OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid expressed deep concern over the continuing freedom of movement restrictions faced by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) in non-government-controlled areas of Ukraine. They called for the immediate removal of all impediments so the Mission can continue to fulfil its essential role in the OSCE’s conflict resolution efforts through its impartial and transparent monitoring and reporting on the security situation in eastern Ukraine. They urged all sides to ensure swift implementation of all their commitments and to engage constructively to de-escalate and resolve the situation.
“There can be no justification for any form of interference in the Mission’s work. The current restrictions have an impact on civilians on both sides of the contact line. The SMM must be provided the necessary conditions to carry out its work throughout Ukraine, in line with its mandate, the Minsk agreements and the Common Agreed Conclusions of the “Normandy” Summit on 9 December 2019,” said Chairperson-in-Office Linde.
As a result of a protest in front of the hotel where Mission members reside in non-government-controlled Donetsk city, and in line with its safety and security measures, the SMM has been unable to deploy any patrols from its hub in Donetsk to conduct its mandated tasks. The protests followed an incident in the Zolote disengagement area on 13 October. Patrolling from the other SMM locations continues. As the SMM previously stated, the SMM stands ready to facilitate dialogue on the ground.
“The SMM’s mandate specifies that the Mission shall have safe and secure access throughout Ukraine without restrictions or conditions. The situation in Donetsk undermines this mandate, limits transparency, and erodes confidence,” said Secretary General Schmid. “I welcome the removal of restrictions at the SMM’s Forward Patrol Base in Horlivka, but more needs to happen. I will continue to engage to have all impediments on the SMM removed so the Mission can safely and securely continue being the world’s eyes and ears on the ground.”
The SMM’s mandate is contained in OSCE Permanent Council Decision No. 1117 and agreed by all 57 participating States. The mandate tasks the Mission to gather information and report on the security situation in and around Ukraine; establish and report facts in response to specific incidents and reports of incidents; monitor and support respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as facilitate dialogue on the ground to reduce tensions and foster peace, stability and security; and to monitor and support the implementation of all OSCE principles and commitments.
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