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Poland parliamentary elections 2023: ODIHR limited election observation mission final report

OSCE - Wed, 03/27/2024 - 19:23
565429 Public Affairs Unit, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Katya Andrusz

The 2023 parliamentary elections in Poland were competitive and voters had a wide choice of political alternatives, but the ruling party was given a clear advantage through its undue influence over the use of state resources and the public media. Contestants campaigned freely, but intolerant, xenophobic and misogynistic rhetoric were widespread. The election administration worked efficiently, but its decision-making processes were not transparent. Election day was calm, and voters enthusiastically turned out in large numbers. The process was well managed in the limited number of polling stations visited.

These are some of the main conclusions from the final report on the 15 October 2023 parliamentary elections published today by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

The report offers 27 recommendations to improve the conduct of elections and to support efforts to bring them further in line with OSCE commitments, as well as other international obligations and standards for democratic elections.

Key recommendations include:

  • Ensuring that changes to the electoral legal framework are made well in advance of elections, allowing for sufficient public consultation and adequate time for effective implementation;
  • Announcing the National Election Commission’s sessions in advance and opening them to the media, citizen and international observers, as well as the public;
  • Amending the electoral legal framework to explicitly prohibit the abuse of state resources in election campaigns, as well as limiting the announcement of new state spending during the campaign period;
  • Publishing all political party and campaign finance reports and ensuring they are timely, comprehensive and easy to understand, with interim reporting requirements before election day;
  • Regulating campaigning by third parties, including setting requirements for registration, financing and disclosure of third-party campaigners;
  • Selecting public broadcaster managers through an inclusive, competitive and transparent process;

ODIHR deployed a Limited Election Observation Mission for these elections from 4 September to 22 October 2023. All 57 countries across the OSCE region have formally committed to follow up promptly on ODIHR’s election assessments and recommendations. In The ODIHR Electoral Recommendations Database tracks the extent to which recommendations are implemented by states across the OSCE region.

Categories: Central Europe

Fighting organized and economic crime through asset recovery focus of OSCE training course in Montenegro

OSCE - Wed, 03/27/2024 - 16:57

On 26 and 27 March, the OSCE’s Transnational Threats Department and the Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities, in co-operation with the Judicial Training Centre of Montenegro organized a two-day training course for judges and prosecutors in Podgorica, Montenegro.

The discussions were aimed at raising awareness of the importance of applying asset recovery provisions in the fight against organized crime, corruption, money laundering and other crimes.

Conducted by a national expert and a representative of the Italian Guardia di Finanza, the training course enhanced practitioners' knowledge and promoted a common understanding of financial investigations, identification and recovery of assets acquired through illegal activities, money laundering and cross-border tracing of illicit financial flows. Interactive sessions required participants to apply the knowledge to case scenarios involving complex money laundering schemes and illicitly acquired property, including across national borders. 

The participants also discussed important rulings of the European Court of Human Rights on stand-alone anti-money laundering cases, as well as international and European Union standards and their importance in advancing national efforts in the fight against organized crime and corruption.

Prosecutor Milos Soskic of the Special Prosecutor's Office emphasized that “the exchange of experiences and good practices given us hope to be able to identify and confiscate illegally proceeds of criminal activities in an efficient manner, and that criminal prosecution against offenders of money laundering will be more effective”.

The training course was conducted as part of the OSCE’s multi-year regional project “Strengthening Asset Recovery Efforts in the OSCE Region”, which is funded by Austria, Germany, Italy and the United States.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE welcomes the initiative “Streets for Peace Project”

OSCE - Wed, 03/27/2024 - 16:03
565378 Željka Šulc

SARAJEVO, 27 March 2024 - The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina welcomes the initiative "Streets for Peace Project" by the youth of Srebrenica suggesting to rename streets with neutral, inclusive names.

This approach to renaming transcends political divides and sets a powerful example of reconciliation, co-operation and understanding, paving the way for a better future for all residents of Srebrenica.

The Mission stands ready to assist relevant authorities in Srebrenica in ensuring citizen inclusion and transparency in approaching the issue of renaming streets. 

Categories: Central Europe

Enhancing municipal youth services in Montenegro to engage young people focus of OSCE-supported training course

OSCE - Wed, 03/27/2024 - 15:47
565360 Marina Živaljević

Strengthening the capacities of municipal youth administrators to organize local youth services and identify the needs and priorities of youth in their communities is a focus of a three-day training course organized by the OSCE Mission to Montenegro and the Ministry of Sports and Youth, which began on 27 March in Budva.

Eight local youth administrators operating in Bar, Kotor, Mojkovac, Nikšić, Petnjica, Plav and Podgorica, supported by two Mission’s consultants, discussed how to conduct a needs assessment and involve young people in the process of planning, monitoring, evaluating and promoting activities. Participants also worked on the developing yearly action plans for their youth services and practical advice on how to address challenges they face in their every-day work was offered.

Opening the training course, Head of OSCE Mission, Dominique Waag said that the Mission is proud to be a long-term supporter of youth administrators and local youth services, recognizing how they can provide a space for young people to be active and engaged in their comminutes. She noted that the OSCE’s commitment to promote the role and the inclusion of youth dates back to its founding document, the Helsinki Final Act, and has become a priority. “There is no policy that is neutral to young people. Each of you are agents of change and role models in your community. Be bold. Reach out to youth in your community, and provide them with forums for discussion. Listen to youth, and develop joint initiatives with them and those working with and for the youth. Only by working together you can make a real change,” said Ambassador Waag.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Sports and Youth, Dragoslav Šćekić, said that this training course represents an important step towards strengthening the capacity of young people to respond to the needs and challenges they face in local communities. “Your active involvement in decision-making processes is extremely important for the development of society, but it is also the right answer to the challenge before us – to reduce the percentage of those who want to leave Montenegro. You are the strength of our society and a key link in achieving positive changes. Your energy and enthusiasm can encourage creating new solutions for current problems,” said Minister Šćekić, adding that the Ministry will work on opening new youth services and strengthening the existing ones.

The training programme in Budva will be followed by online mentoring sessions for the youth administrators in seven municipalities, to support them finalize their yearly action plans. The mentoring sessions will also include additional four youth services from Cetinje, Danilovgrad, Pljevlja and Šavnik.

The Mission will continue to provide support to the existing municipal youth services, as well as to the ones that will be established in other Montenegrin municipalities, as envisaged by the National Youth Strategy.

Categories: Central Europe

Office of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities organizes roundtable on 'Recommendations on the Effective Participation of National Minorities in Social and Economic Life'

OSCE - Wed, 03/27/2024 - 15:27
565366 OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Recommendations on the Effective Participation of National Minorities in Social and Economic Life Supporting social and economic participation OSCE celebrates 30th anniversary of High Commissioner on National Minorities Thematic Recommendations and Guidelines

The office of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM) and the Department of National Minorities under the Government of the Republic of Lithuania organized an expert roundtable on the Recommendations on the Effective Participation of National Minorities in Social and Economic Life (Socio-economic Recommendations) on 25 March 2024 in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Decision makers, experts, and representatives of civil society and minority communities, shared practical implications and good practices from Estonia, Lithuania and the United States to promote the effective participation of national minorities in social and economic life.

Addressing the participants, Director of the office of the HCNM Marek Szczygieł said: “Economic inclusion is not just about creating opportunities; it's about building unity, breaking down divisions in society, and ensuring equal participation in the economic life of our nations. These Recommendations recognize the links between conflict prevention, national minorities, and social and economic inclusion. By empowering national minorities economically, we will be in a stronger position to enhance peace and security, prevent inter-ethnic conflicts, and contribute to overall economic growth within our societies.”

Director of the Department of National Minorities under the Government of the Republic of Lithuania Dr. Vida Montvydaitė said: “It is important to underline that in Lithuania, with a shortage of skilled workers, every highly qualified immigrant who works in unskilled jobs because of unrecognized education, qualifications, language or social issues is an inexcusable loss for our country. These issues need to be dealt with flexibly and urgently, not only for the sake of the arrivals, but also in the interests of our country.”

The guests and experts included US State Department Special Representative for Racial Equity and Justice Desiree Cormier-Smith, US Environmental Protection Agency Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator Theresa Segovia, Narva Estonian State High School Director Irene Käosaar and Lithuanian Centre for Social Sciences Director Professor Boguslavas Gruževskis.

The Socio-economic Recommendations assist policymakers to design policies that increase the participation of minorities in education, employment, housing, health care, the digital sphere, regional development and the environment. Each of these areas gives specific consideration to minority women and youth.

The roundtable provided an opportunity to discuss the practical implications of the Recommendations and good practices related to the socio-economic inclusion of national minorities from the OSCE region.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Kairat Abdrakhmanov concludes his visit to Latvia

OSCE - Tue, 03/26/2024 - 15:09
565327 OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities High Commissioner on National Minorities Zannier discusses inter-ethnic relations and integration on his first visit to Latvia The Bolzano/Bozen Recommendations on National Minorities in Inter-State Relations The Ljubljana Guidelines on Integration of Diverse Societies The Hague Recommendations Regarding the Education Rights of National Minorities The Oslo Recommendations regarding the Linguistic Rights of National Minorities The Tallinn Guidelines on National Minorities and the Media in the Digital Age Thematic Recommendations and Guidelines

OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Kairat Abdrakhmanov highlighted his open and constructive dialogue with the authorities in Latvia and representatives of national minorities, as well as civil society, during his first visit to the country from 18 to 21 March 2024.

The High Commissioner met with key State interlocutors, including Foreign Minister Krišjānis Kariņš, Culture Minister Agnese Logina, Education and Science Minister Anda Čakša, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Zanda Kalniņa-Lukašēvica, State Secretary at the Interior Ministry Dimitrijs Trofimovs and the Mayor of Daugavpils Andrejs Elksniņš. During discussions with officials, he shared his observations from views presented during a series of meetings with national minority representatives, activists from civil society, the media, principals, and students and teachers from a number of local schools in Riga and Daugavpils.

Abdrakhmanov thanked the Foreign Ministry for facilitating this fruitful visit, especially for the opportunity to discuss issues related to education, the use of language, citizenship, participation and media, among other topics. He also acknowledged the impact of the sensitive regional context on Latvia, which has resulted in specific national minority issues. The High Commissioner said that “notwithstanding the unprecedented security challenges in the region and the need of many participating States to adequately respond to them”, he has urged the authorities to “create an environment that adequately reflects the rights and needs of all groups in society, by means of balanced, pragmatic and inclusive policies with gradual timeframes of implementation, as this can make societies more cohesive and resilient to tensions and conflict.”

Reflecting on the changes to the education system, the High Commissioner commended the Latvian authorities for their efforts to promote the State language as a tool to facilitate the participation of national minorities in public life. At the same time, based on Latvia’s longstanding experience in multilingual education, he encouraged the authorities to provide meaningful opportunities for national minorities to continue learning and practising their mother tongues, for adequate investment to support such programmes, and for close monitoring of implementation to ensure that a high quality of education is preserved at all levels, including for children with special needs. “Maintaining a share of locally produced media content in the Russian language would also be important as this can help to keep national minorities within the Latvian information space”, he added. With regard to ongoing reforms in the immigration and citizenship sphere, he acknowledged the positive steps that had been taken recently; at the same time, he advised the authorities to address cases through individual, reasonable and proportional approaches. Continuous outreach to, and the meaningful involvement of, local communities and civil society in the development and implementation of policies affecting them is important for social integration, he concluded.

The High Commissioner discussed these issues with the Ombudsman of Latvia Juris Jansons, the Head of the State Language Centre Māris Baltiņš, and the Chairman of the National Electronic Mass Media Council Ivars Āboliņš, among other interlocutors, highlighting the role they play from the perspective of their respective mandates in safeguarding human rights, non-discrimination and good governance, including the protection of national minorities. The High Commissioner also stressed the importance of the State authorities’ efforts to raise awareness and build confidence with persons belonging to national minorities.

As per his mandate, the High Commissioner is committed to assisting the OSCE participating States with the development and implementation of pragmatic, balanced and forward-looking policies in the area of national minority issues. The HCNM’s Guidelines and Recommendations are an essential reference to that end. Facilitating exchanges of experiences and good practices is another important tool that the HCNM employs to support the work of all OSCE participating States dealing with integration questions. The High Commissioner has also paid close attention to policy changes in the OSCE area that have an impact on language use among national minorities in the past years.

“Latvia has been an important partner for the HCNM during the past 30 years. Its experience in dealing with national minority questions at a very delicate juncture of time has provided a useful contribution to such exchanges,” said High Commissioner Kairat Abdrakhmanov.

Categories: Central Europe

Conference on addressing Anti-Semitism in the OSCE region

OSCE - Tue, 03/26/2024 - 14:27

VALLETTA, 27 MARCH 2024 - The Maltese Chairpersonship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, with the support of OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), will convene a two-day Conference on Addressing Anti-Semitism in the OSCE region starting on 8 April 2024.

Taking place in Malta, the Conference will gather high-level representatives from across the OSCE participating States, including relevant stakeholders from international organisations, academia and civil society organisations, offering a platform for dialogue on challenges and good practices in addressing Anti-Semitism.

The opening session of the conference will be addressed, among others, by the OSCE Chair-in-Office, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs and Trade of Malta  Ian Borg; OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid; ODIHR Director Matteo Mecacci; OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Kairat Abdrakhmanov, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Teresa Ribeiro, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Pia Kauma, United States Senator Ben Cardin and  Personal Representative of the OSCE Chair-in-Office on Combating Anti-Semitism Rabbi Andrew Baker.

Discussion will focus on three critical areas: evaluating progress in tackling anti-Semitism since the landmark 2004 Berlin Declaration, addressing anti-Semitism in the digital and physical spheres, and enhancing trust across communities through interfaith and intercultural dialogue.

This Conference is a follow up to the previous OSCE Chairs-in-Office conferences and meetings dedicated to addressing anti-Semitism.

The media is invited to the Conference’s opening session on Monday. Journalists wishing to attend must register by sending a confirmation email to the Spokesperson of the Chair-in-Office, Mr Thomas Attard, at this address no later than Wednesday, 3 April 2024. Additional details about the Conference will be provided upon registration.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Mission donates IT analytical tools and software to law enforcement agencies

OSCE - Tue, 03/26/2024 - 11:05
565300 Željka Šulc

The OSCE Mission to BiH donated a tailored package of specialized equipment and software to bolster the police’s technical capabilities in conducting criminal intelligence analysis, ease police co-operation, and facilitate information exchange in light of combating serious and organized crime as well as other security threats. The Mission donated 42 desktop computers and 14 i2 Analyst’s Notebook licenses to law enforcement agencies across BiH at a handover ceremony held today in Sarajevo.

The Mission will also ensure more sustainable training on criminal intelligence analysis at the state- and entity-level police education institutions.

“In the months ahead, we will continue to address the priorities for improving the organizational structure and policies, training curricula, IT systems, and databases, as well as advancing the efficiency of information sharing,” said Ambassador Brian Aggeler, Head of the OSCE Mission to BiH.

“Enhancing intelligence-led policing in law enforcement and judicial institutions at all levels in Bosnia and Herzegovina help these institutions being more effective and responding to needs of all citizens in terms of security, stability and justice,” said Stefan Almehagen Sandstad, Chargé d'affaires at the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Sarajevo. “Norway is proud to contribute financially to the efforts of the OSCE Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina through trainings and workshops for several hundred participants from relevant institutions, as well as material donations for institutions and their professionals to bring knowledge into action.“

This donation is part of the OSCE Mission to BiH project titled "Enhancing Intelligence-led Policing to Combat Serious Security Threats and Crimes (ILP Project)," implemented with the generous support of Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Norway and Türkiye.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Mission Survey: Fear and Mistrust Hinder Reporting of Hate Crimes

OSCE - Tue, 03/26/2024 - 09:12
565294 Željka Šulc

SARAJEVO, 26 March 2024 – The presentation of the findings and recommendations from the Hate Crimes Underreporting Survey by the OSCE Mission to BiH in Sarajevo today highlights the critical factors contributing to the widespread underreporting of hate crimes: fear of reprisal, lack of trust in the justice system, and inadequate mechanisms for reporting and recording.

The Hate Crimes Underreporting Survey (Survey), conducted between June and October 2023, aimed to provide the first systematic account of experiences related to potential hate crimes and incidents in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). This initiative establishes an evidence base for both official and non-governmental stakeholders, serving as a crucial resource in the ongoing effort to combat hate crimes.

Thomas Busch, Deputy Head of the OSCE Mission to BiH, emphasized: “Hate crimes are not just acts of discriminatory violence against individuals; they are assaults on the very fabric of society, eroding the principles of equality, dignity, and human rights. This report represents the voices of those directly impacted and calls for action to address systemic shortcomings in addressing such acts.”

According to the Survey results, the most common types of potential crimes and incidents experienced include in-person insults, verbal assaults, offensive gestures, and harassment. Survey respondents reported experiencing 562 potential hate crimes and incidents at least once in the previous 12 months, with some reporting victimization more than once. It's important to note that these numbers reflect the experiences of only 2,438 Survey respondents from 18 municipalities/cities in BiH. Extrapolating this data across the entire population would likely reveal a significantly higher number of potential hate crimes and incidents.

Through the dedication of researchers, activists, and community leaders, the project has shed unprecedented light into the extent of underreporting and the obstacles that hinder access to justice for victims of hate crimes,” said Stefan Almehagen Sandstad, Chargé d'affaires at the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Sarajevo. “Let us continue to advocate for tolerance, diversity, and inclusion, and to work towards shaping a future where hatred finds no harbour in our societies.”

Addressing hate crimes necessitates a multifaceted approach involving legal reforms, training, community engagement, and public awareness. It requires steadfast commitment from government institutions, civil society organizations, and every individual dedicated to upholding the principles of equality and justice.

The Survey, funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and commissioned by the OSCE Mission to BiH, is part of the wider efforts of the OSCE Mission to BiH to combat hate crimes in BiH.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Mission's Guidelines: Safe Storage and Handling of Weapons Enhance Security

OSCE - Mon, 03/25/2024 - 14:05
565177 Željka Šulc

The Guidelines for the Management of Small Arms and Light Weapons in Police Organizations in BiH (Guidelines), presented today in Konjic by the OSCE Mission to BiH to representatives of law enforcement agencies, represent an important step towards fostering a consistent and effective approach for police officers in ensuring the safe storage and handling of weapons, in line with relevant laws and regulations.

Adherence to these Guidelines will help reduce the risk of unauthorized access to weapons within police units, minimizing the chances of misuse and enhancing the safety of officers during their duties. Next to the Guidelines’ presentation, a four-day advanced training course on “Training-of-Trainers on Control and Management of Small Arms and Light Weapons in Police Organizations in BiH” was organized for representatives from all law enforcement agencies in the country.

Thomas Busch, Deputy Head of the OSCE Mission to BiH, said: “Today’s training and the presented guidelines mark a significant step forward in enhancing police capacity to manage firearms securely and conduct training independently in this area.”

“We witnessed tragedies resulting from the use of weapons in illegal possession, but also from the use of registered weapons owned by the citizens. The tragic event from Tuzla shows that even the weapons owned by the police officers off duty can be used to commit brutal murder, in this case femicide. These are all warning signs that we have to work continuously to improve control mechanisms and procedures to minimize the chances of misuse of weapons for the commission of major criminal offences,” said Assistant Minister Ermin Pešto.

This initiative is part of the broader project implemented by the OSCE Mission to BiH, assisting authorities in addressing security and safety concerns associated with illegal possession, misuse, and trafficking of small arms and light weapons, along with their ammunition. The project is financially supported by Austria, the Czech Republic, the European Union, Germany, France, Liechtenstein, Norway, Slovakia, Türkiye and the United States.

Categories: Central Europe

Deadline for nominations for 2024 Max van der Stoel Award extended

OSCE - Fri, 03/22/2024 - 15:15

THE HAGUE, 22 March 2024 –The deadline for receiving nominations for the 2024 Max van der Stoel Award has been extended to 6 May 2024. The award of 50,000 euros recognizes extraordinary and outstanding achievements in improving the position of national minorities in the OSCE participating States.

Eligible candidates include international organizations, non-governmental organizations, research institutes, government bodies or individuals with a record of excellence in the field of improving the position and rights of national minorities in the OSCE area.

OSCE field operations, institutions, and delegations of the OSCE participating States may nominate candidates directly. Anyone else can propose an eligible candidate by contacting an OSCE institution, including the office of the HCNM, their local OSCE field operation or their delegation to the OSCE who will then decide whether to nominate the proposed candidate.

“In order to ensure transparency, fair competition and inclusiveness, my office will nominate all eligible and qualified candidates whose application it receives. I encourage all other OSCE entities to do the same by the 6 May deadline,” said OSCE HCNM Kairat Abdrakhmanov.

OSCE field operations, institutions and delegations should send their nominations directly to the office of the High Commissioner on National Minorities via email (, through the online form ( or by mail/diplomatic post to:

OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities
Max van der Stoel Award
Prinsessegracht 22
2514 AP The Hague
The Netherlands

After receiving all nominations, a special jury composed of distinguished experts of international repute and chaired by the High Commissioner will choose the winner. The award will be presented to the winner at a ceremony in The Hague in the autumn of 2024.

Established in 2001 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, the award honours Max van der Stoel, a prominent Dutch statesperson who was the first OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, and aims to draw attention to issues related to national minorities.

More information about the award is available in this factsheet.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Media Freedom Representative opens Safety of Journalists event, discusses media challenges during visit to Italy

OSCE - Fri, 03/22/2024 - 12:02

VIENNA, 22 March 2024 – Teresa Ribeiro, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media (RFoM), concluded a two-day visit to Italy where she discussed with her interlocutors the importance of ensuring the safety of journalists, the independence of public service media, and the crucial nexus between media freedom and security.

Part of the dialogue was also centered around one of Italy's most pressing challenges concerning media freedom: the criminalization of defamation. The current legal framework in Italy, which treats defamation as a criminal offense and, hence, exerts a chilling effect on journalistic activities, was underscored as detrimental to the vibrancy of Italy's media landscape. The legal developments on defamation foreseen by the authorities should therefore be regarded as an important step towards aligning national law with international standards. “I have, like the other Representatives before me, always advocated for the decriminalization of defamation, to end the chilling effect that even the potential of sanctions on the basis of such laws can have on media freedom. Defamation is a civil wrong that should be dealt with through private law.”

During the visit, Ribeiro met with the Undersecretary of State to the Ministry Justice Andrea Delmastro Delle Vedove and the Undersecretary of State to the Presidency of Council of Ministers Alberto Barachini Council of Ministers, as well as with Professor Francesco Vigano, a Judge at the Constitutional Court. She also met with Giacomo Lasorella, the President of the Italian Communication Regulatory Authority (AGCOM). "We agreed that it is imperative to continue to work together to uphold fundamental principles of media freedom and protect the invaluable role of journalists in society. In order to do so, we have to create an environment where journalists can carry out their work safely and without fear of reprisal,” Ribeiro stated.

The Office of the Representative, in collaboration with the Coordination Centre for Monitoring, Analysis, and Permanent Exchange of Information on Acts of Intimidation Against Journalists, organized an event on the Safety of Journalists. This event, held under the auspices of the Ministry of Interior, saw the participation of Ribeiro and Prefect Raffaele Grassi, who serves as the President of the Support Body of the Centre, and who inaugurated the proceedings. National Focal Points from OSCE Participating States actively participated in the meeting, offering insights into both challenges and best practices. They discussed topics like fostering closer collaboration between journalists' associations, judicial bodies, and law enforcement agencies, aiming to enhance journalistic safety.

“There can be no doubt about it: the situation for media freedom in the OSCE region is dire. But it is not beyond hope. I am fully convinced, and many experts and interlocutors I have encountered over the years in my work as a Representative on Freedom of the Media share the same conviction: the fight for media freedom must continue. It is a fight for freedom and for democracy,” Ribeiro concluded.

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, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on

Categories: Central Europe

ODIHR opens election observation mission in North Macedonia

OSCE - Thu, 03/21/2024 - 10:23

SKOPJE, 21 March 2024 – The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) today opened an election observation mission to North Macedonia for the 24 April presidential election and the 8 May parliamentary elections, following an invitation from the national authorities.

The mission is led by Ambassador Jillian Stirk and is composed of 12 international experts from 12 OSCE states, based in Skopje. 20 long-term observers will be deployed throughout the country from 27 March. ODIHR has also requested 300 short-term observers, to arrive shortly before election day.

The mission will assess the elections for their compliance with OSCE commitments and other international obligations and standards, as well as with national legislation. Observers will follow voter registration, candidate registration, campaign activities, the work of the election administration and relevant state bodies, implementation of the legislative framework, political and campaign finance and the resolution of election disputes. They will also assess the implementation of prior ODIHR recommendations. Comprehensive monitoring of the media is an integral part of the observation mission.

Throughout its observation, the mission will hold meetings with representatives of the national authorities, and political parties, as well as with the judiciary, civil society and the media.

The ODIHR mission will combine efforts on both election days with delegations from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the European Parliament, as well as with a delegation from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) for the parliamentary elections. They will observe the opening of polling stations, voting, the counting of ballots and the tabulation of results.

An interim report will be published to update the public and the media during the course of the observation, and a statement of preliminary findings will be presented at press conferences on the day after each election. A final report summing up the observation of the entire electoral process will be published some months after the election process has ended.

Further information on ODIHR’s election observation activities in North Macedonia is available here:

Media contacts:

Laurens Teule, media analyst: and +389 72 255 032


Katya Andrusz, ODIHR Spokesperson, at and +48 609 522 266  

Categories: Central Europe

118th Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism meeting takes place in Ergneti

OSCE - Wed, 03/20/2024 - 17:24

ERGNETI, 21 March 2024 – The 118th Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) took place in Ergneti yesterday under the co-facilitation of the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

The EUMM and OSCE co-facilitators welcomed participants and commended their commitment to the IPRM format. They called for pragmatism to find mutually acceptable practical solutions that respond positively and effectively to the human security needs of women and men living on both sides of the administrative boundary line (ABL).

At the meeting, the co-facilitators advocated for the lifting of freedom of movement restrictions during the upcoming Orthodox Easter holiday season, while reiterating their calls for the full re-opening of crossing points for regular cross-ABL traffic. The EUMM and OSCE also called on participants to discontinue the practice of detentions and urged a humanitarian approach towards the resolution of existing detention cases.

Discussions also focused on the recent security developments at the ABL, including the installation of physical barriers, such as fences and barbed wire, as well as activities of security actors.

All participants agreed that the upcoming agricultural season necessitates continued dialogue and acknowledged the benefits of technical meetings on water irrigation issues.

As in previous IPRM meetings, the participants commended the work of the EUMM-managed Hotline, underscoring it is an essential tool to exchange information, defuse tensions and manage incidents in a timely manner.

The participants agreed to convene the next regular IPRM meeting on 16 May 2024 and to hold a technical meeting on water irrigation issues on 26 April 2024.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Presence, Albania’s parliament sign Memorandum of Understanding strengthening ongoing partnership

OSCE - Wed, 03/20/2024 - 16:02

Acting Head of the OSCE Presence in Albania, Clarisse Pasztory and Speaker of the Assembly of Albania Lindita Nikolla signed a Memorandum of Understanding today to renew and strengthen the partnership between the two institutions. The Memorandum creates a general framework and sets guidelines for the co-operation between the Presence and parliament with regard to the programme “Support to Parliament of the Republic of Albania”.

“The Assembly will continue to strengthen the successful partnership with the OSCE Presence to advance democratization reforms and Albania’s European integration”, Nikolla stressed at the signing event.

“We are proud to stand as a steadfast partner of the Albanian Assembly. We stand ready to work together in enhancing the quality of legislation, legislative services, political representation and oversight. The OSCE in Albania remains committed to supporting the Assembly in these efforts,” said Pasztory.

According to the Memorandum, the Presence will support the Assembly to improve its legislative, oversight and representative functions, as well as the parliamentary administration to fulfil their functions in an efficient, effective and inclusive way. The Presence and the Assembly will also co-operate to enhance parliament’s interaction with citizens, and to develop and introduce innovative tools for an integrated and transparent legislative system that improves access to consolidated laws and parliamentary records.

The Presence is a long-term partner of the Assembly of Albania, in line of its mandate to assist Albania’s efforts to consolidate effective democratic institutions and to promote the rule of law and human rights in conformity with the OSCE principles, standards and commitments.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE completes training course on avalanche safety within EU-funded project for Tajikistan's Committee of Emergency Situations and Civil Defence

OSCE - Wed, 03/20/2024 - 12:41
Munira Shoinbekova, OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe

The OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe completed a capacity-building training course on avalanche safety for representatives of Tajikistan’s Committee of Emergency Situations and Civil Defence (CoESCD) on 15 March 2024 in the Varzob district, outskirts of Dushanbe.  The event was conducted as part of the OSCE’s project on the Stabilization of Tajikistan’s southern borders with Afghanistan, funded by the European Union. 

Designed to enhance preparedness and response capabilities, the two-week course boasted a cohort of 20 participants, including 18 rescuers and two national instructors. The participants, all male, represented Rapid Response Units strategically stationed across Tajikistan's Sughd, Khatlon, and Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province (GBAO) regions.Focusing on critical skills such as the identification of avalanche zones, risk assessment procedures, and the proficient handling of search, extraction, and transportation operations for victims, the course was set to elevate the expertise and readiness of the country's emergency response teams. Practical sessions were conducted in the avalanche danger zones of the Maikhura base of the CoESCD in Varzob district. When weather conditions allowed, participants used the knowledge in practice in the avalanche-prone zone. During the training’s delivery, more than 40 avalanches were registered. Participants got immediate and practical experience and were involved in extracting 50 vehicles from snow and providing transportation for victims.

As part of the ongoing commitment to strengthen Tajikistan's capacity to respond to natural disasters and ensure stability on the border area, this initiative exemplifies collaborative efforts between OSCE, the European Union and local authorities, with a shared goal of ensuring the safety and security of the region. 

Categories: Central Europe

ODIHR observers to North Macedonia’s presidential and parliamentary elections to hold press conference on Thursday

OSCE - Wed, 03/20/2024 - 10:25

SKOPJE, 20 March 2024 – Observers from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) will hold a press conference on the opening of the election observation mission to the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in North Macedonia on Thursday 21 March.


  • An introduction to the role of the ODIHR election observation mission and its planned activities


  • Jillian Stirk, Head of the ODIHR election observation mission


  • 11:00 local time (GMT+1) on 21 March.


  • DoubleTree by Hilton, Bulevar ASNOM 17, Skopje


  • No registration is necessary but only questions from journalists will be taken.

For further information on ODIHR’s election observation activities in North Macedonia, please visit:

Media Contact:

Katya Andrusz ODIHR Spokesperson, or +48 609 522 266 and Laurens Teule, ODIHR EOM Media Analyst, or +389 72 255 032

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE addresses connection between gender, corruption and natural resources

OSCE - Tue, 03/19/2024 - 11:44

On 13 March 2024, the OSCE Gender Issues Programme WIN Project, co-hosted together with Italy and Ireland, a side event titled "No Woman’s Land: Unpacking the Nexus and Finding Solutions on Gender, Corruption and Access to Natural Resources" at the margins of the 68th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68) in New York.

The event, chaired by the OSCE Senior Advisor on Gender Issues Lara Scarpitta, brought together international and civil society experts as well as academia and provided a platform for panellists and experts to explore the nexus between gender and corruption, particularly focusing on its impact on women's access to natural resources. The political, environmental, social and economic ramifications of corruption were also discussed.

In her recorded opening remarks, OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid emphasized the impact of corruption, stating that “Corruption is not gender neutral and it affects women disproportionally. This is why we need targeted and gender-responsive policies. It is time to unlock women’s potential in fighting corruption and to remove any barrier that stands in their way to full empowerment in our societies.”

The new research on "Gender and Corruption in the Access to Natural Resources: Preliminary Findings," was presented during the side event. The report examines how women’s economic empowerment and participation in decision-making are affected by corruptive practices in four sectors: water, land, forestry and extractive industries.

Participants also discussed the pervasive nature of corruption across various contexts such as peace and mediation efforts and in humanitarian settings. Speakers highlighted the advantages and necessity of integrating women into decision-making processes, especially in humanitarian settings and in the field of mediation and negotiations for access to critical natural resources such as water and land.

In addition, experts addressed best practices for empowering women, promoting women’s leadership and ensuring gender equality in the management of natural resources. Speakers made recommendations for policymakers to promote gender-responsive policies and approaches.

Speakers included Dr. Michael Breen (Professor, Dublin City University), Joachime Nason (Head of the Humanitarian Section, EU Delegation to the UN in New York), Dr. Ayse Betul Celik (Professor, Sabanci University & Mediterranean Women’s Mediators Network) and Maria Victoria Cabrera Balleza (Chief Executive Officer, Global Network of Women Peacebuilders). 

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE supports the first online international training board meeting on explosive hazards

OSCE - Tue, 03/19/2024 - 07:10
564964 Munira Shoinbekova, OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe

On 15 March 2024, the OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe’s Integrated Co-operation on Explosive Hazards (ICExH) programme organized the 1st Online International Training Board meeting for the respective governmental structures of Central Asia and the OSCE field operations in Central Asia.

The meeting was initiated as per the request of the board members who participated in the 2nd International Training Board meeting in Istanbul, Türkiye on 14-15 December 2023 and who recognized the need for a follow-up meeting of board members to ensure up-to-date information sharing.

The main aim of the meeting was to further discuss challenges, best practices, and ways forward in the management and implementation of training courses and related activities on explosive hazard reduction and response. The event also provided a platform to integrate the needs and priorities of key beneficiaries and training partners in the process of planning, developing and implementing activities in 2024.

The meeting served as a regional forum for dialogue on future collaboration among main interlocutors. Particularly it provided the latest updates on the 2024 training plan and identified further national and organizational needs and priorities for strengthening co-operation in the domain of training and professional development in support of explosive hazard reduction and response. Participants discussed joint activities planned in Central Asia in 2024 and the importance of active engagement of the focal points and the OSCE field operations in facilitating the upcoming training. 

The event was attended by the respective Ministries of Defence and Border Troops of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, the OSCE field operations in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, Norwegian People’s Aid and Tajikistan’s National Mine Action Centre. It brought together 30 specialists and practitioners from the military, law enforcement, security services, humanitarian agencies, and international organizations. 

This activity corresponds to the wider OSCE role to serve as a forum for political dialogue on a wide range of security issues and a platform for joint action to improve the lives of individuals and communities in Central Asia.

Categories: Central Europe

Moldova’s 2023 local elections: ODIHR election observation mission final report

OSCE - Mon, 03/18/2024 - 16:37
479954 Public Affairs Unit, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Katya Andrusz

Moldova’s 2023 local elections were peaceful and managed efficiently, but interference from abroad and restrictions on freedom of expression due to national security concerns had a negative impact. The influx of illicit and foreign funds and the monetary incentives used to influence voters’ choice distorted the campaign. Contestants were able to campaign freely and voters were provided with distinct alternatives, but the de-registration of all candidates of one party on the eve of the elections limited voters’ choice.

These are some of the main conclusions from the final report on the 5 November elections published by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). The report offers 31 recommendations to bring elections further in line with OSCE commitments, as well as other international obligations and standards for democratic elections.

Key recommendations include:

  • Establishing effective parliamentary control over decisions of the Commission for Exceptional Situations when elections are held during a state of emergency;
  • Taking measures to ensure the independence of the Central Election Commission, including a review of the current composition of the CEC ahead of the next presidential and parliamentary elections;
  • Guaranteeing the right to vote to anyone who changes their residence close to election day;
  • Guaranteeing timely and effective legal remedy on decisions related to de-registration of candidates;
  • Discouraging contestants and high-ranking officials from using their public office and government-funded projects to gain an unfair electoral advantage during the campaign;
  • Ensuring that broadcasting rights are not suspended or withdrawn unless the broadcaster is held to be in serious and repeated breach of a legitimate restriction on content by the media regulator or the court;
  • Revising legislation to ensure the independence of the management of the public broadcaster and the media regulator and the stability of members' tenure;
  • Mandating that the dissemination of media content can not be prohibited except when law provides for such measures serving legitimate aims in line with the principles of necessity and proportionality;
  • Mandating that the election results be promptly published on the Central Election Commission website, disaggregated by polling station, and available in an accessible format;
  • Regulating that the second round of mayoral elections take place only after the final decisions on appeals against election results have been reached.

ODIHR deployed an Election Observation Mission on 28 September 2023 to observe the local elections. All 57 participating States across the OSCE region have formally committed to following up promptly on ODIHR’s election assessments and recommendations.

Categories: Central Europe


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