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OSCE Extends Mandate of Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine by 6 Months

RIA Novosti

16:14 22/07/2014

VIENNA, July 22 (RIA Novosti) – The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) extended Tuesday the mandate of its Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine by six months, the organization said.

"Mandate of OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine extended by another six months," the OSCE said in a post on its Twitter account.

The move was adopted by consensus through the silence procedure, which makes it possible to pass a decision within a specific time limit provided no objection is raised.

The current deadline is due to expire on September 20, 2014. At the moment the mission comprises 227 members from more than 40 countries, with the assistance of its local staff.

OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter said in a press release Tuesday this decision indicated that "the scope for a co-operative solution to the Ukraine crisis persists among the 57 participating states even under the current challenging circumstances."

Monitors are tasked with gathering information on the ground, providing the head office with reports on the security situation in combat zones, monitoring human rights violations and the rights of minorities in Ukraine, as well as facilitating contacts between rivals.

"The value of impartially verified information and objective reporting on developments on the ground cannot be overestimated in tense and volatile situations," Burkhalter said.

He stressed the mission has proven to be "a useful facilitator of contacts," pointing to its role in enabling access to the crash site of the Malaysian airliner for international investigators. He also called on all sides in the conflict to ensure the safety of monitors, including at the MH17 crash site.

The deployment of monitors to nine major cities across Ukraine, as well as to its capital Kiev, remains unchanged, the OSCE said in its statement. It said the primary goal was the de-escalation of tensions in the country.

Kiev authorities launched a special military operation in the east of Ukraine in mid-April in a crackdown on the independence movement. Hundreds of people, including civilians, have died in both regions over the past months.

In a sudden turn of events, a Malaysian passenger plane crashed last Thursday in the region of Donetsk, prompting the rivals in the east to trade blame for its alleged downing. Militia in the region has emphasized several times that they lacked the technology to shoot down a high-flying plane.

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