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Montenegrin delegation takes part in OSCE 24th Conference of the Alliance against Trafficking in Persons in Vienna

Wed, 04/17/2024 - 12:40
566830 Marina Živaljević

On 15 and 16 April, the OSCE Mission to Montenegro supported participation of Montenegrin delegation in 24th high-level Conference of the Alliance against Trafficking in Persons, attended by more than 800 participants from the OSCE region and beyond in Vienna.

The Montenegrin delegation included Tijana Šuković, Head of the Department for Combating Human Trafficking in the Ministry of Interior, Danka Ivanović-Đerić, Prosecutor in the High State Prosecutor’s Office and Bojana Bandović, independent advisor in the Supreme Court.

In her address to the participants of the conference, Šuković stated that Montenegro has intensified activities on implementation of reforms in fight against human trafficking and a more robust response to this problem, both from the criminal law aspect and in terms of proactive and preventive approach to it at all levels. “Montenegro remains dedicated to acting on a bilateral and multilateral level in the domain of combating trafficking in human beings, as an active and reliable partner in order to attain the best possible quality of joint future,” said Šuković.

She added that in three years, ten training courses educating 149 police officers, social workers and NGO representatives have been organized with the support of the OSCE Mission, based on the Mission’s Guidelines for conducting interviews with persons suspected of being THB victim, with a set of questions.

OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid said: “If we are to ever defeat trafficking, and this undoubtedly must be our shared ambition, effective approaches to prevention must be the bedrock upon which our anti-trafficking efforts are built. Preventing trafficking in human beings from taking place is the best way to truly protect vulnerable groups and deprive traffickers of the illicit proceeds the crime generates.”

Dr. Kari Johnstone, OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Human Trafficking said that traffickers prey on the marginalized and most vulnerable. “But we are witnessing an emerging trend where the demographic profile of trafficking victims is also expanding, at pace with the digital developments in which we are living. We are witnessing an evolution of trafficking where it intersects or even merges with other crimes such as drugs, or fraud and scams where perpetrators are disguised behind victims,” said Johnstone.

At the 24th Conference of the Alliance against Trafficking in Persons, OSCE leaders and anti-trafficking experts called on the 57 OSCE participating States to move beyond awareness-raising campaigns, underscoring the urgent need to re-evaluate prevention efforts in the face of evolving trafficking tactics. During panels and break-out sessions, participants discussed concrete ways to reshape trafficking prevention.

The OSCE Mission to Montenegro will continue to support national authorities in combatting human trafficking, adjusting its co-operation and activities to the conclusions of the conference.

Categories: Central Europe

Proliferation and misuse of firearms remains a pressing security issue for BiH and the region

Wed, 04/17/2024 - 11:35
566815 Željka Šulc

During a three-day outreach and awareness workshop on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW), held from 15 to 17 April in Tarčin, the OSCE Mission to BiH presented guidelines to improve communication and co-operation among law enforcement agencies, media, and the public regarding SALW. The Guidelines for Enhancement of Inter-institutional Communication and Outreach on SALW and Monitoring and Evaluation Framework represent an important step towards increasing role awareness and SALW-associated risks among both institutions and citizens. The workshop, which concluded today, was attended by representatives of law enforcement agencies as well as media outlets.

These resources, resulting from the OSCE BiH’ s project on SALW in partnership with the BiH Ministry of Security and law enforcement agencies, will also guide the planning, organization, monitoring, and evaluation of SALW-related activities.

"Media is an important partner in aiding law enforcement in the intensified work on educating the public on SALW-related issues, particularly concerning domestic violence and femicide. To that end, this workshop will provide a platform to identify the key challenges in communication between police and journalists," said Ambassador Brian Aggeler, Head of the OSCE Mission to BiH.

Ermin Pešto, Chair of the SALW Coordination Board, said that the SALW Coordination Board in Bosnia and Herzegovina improves each segment of operation of security agencies in the area of prevention of abuse of illegal weapons. “We have identified the need to improve communication between law enforcement and the media as one of the challenges. With better understanding of our roles and better communication, it will be easier to pursue our common goal, which is the higher level of security of the citizens.”

This initiative is part of a broader project implemented by the OSCE Mission to BiH, assisting authorities in addressing security and safety concerns associated with illegal possession, misuse, as well as 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

OSCE Chair-in-Office addresses the U.S. Helsinki Commission

Wed, 04/17/2024 - 10:23

WASHINGTON, 17 April 2024 - OSCE Chair-in-Office, Malta's Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade Ian Borg, addressed the United States’ Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), underlining Malta's vision and priorities during its 2024 OSCE Chairpersonship.

Chair-in-Office Borg highlighted the current pivotal moment for the international rules-based order, challenged by unprecedented threats to peace and stability. Minister Borg noted the detrimental impact of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine on the foundational principles of the OSCE, underlining that this war will remain at the top of the OSCE agenda.

“Safeguarding and strengthening the functionality of the OSCE is another primary overarching priority of Malta’s Chairpersonship,” stated Borg. Recalling his recent visits to Serbia, Kosovo and the Republic of Moldova, Minister Borg reaffirmed the OSCE’s critical role in promoting dialogue and stability across the region, despite the severe threats posed by conflicts and other sources of instability.

Minister Borg affirmed Malta's unwavering commitment to safeguarding and upholding the core OSCE principles and commitments, as enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act and the Charter of Paris. "These principles are not optional but integral to the functioning of this Organisation," he emphasized, underlining Malta's dedication to maximising the OSCE's full potential in conflict resolution and peace building.

Minister Borg reaffirmed Malta's enduring determination to advance human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy, and the rule of law. Recently, Malta hosted an OSCE conference aimed at addressing anti-Semitism in the OSCE region, highlighting the Chairpersonship’s broader efforts to combat all forms of discrimination and intolerance.

Chair-in-Office Borg outlined Malta’s focused initiatives within the human dimension, including efforts to promoting media and information literacy to counter disinformation and enhance democracy, particularly among youth. He highlighted that ensuring journalists' safety is essential for a free media, adding that combating violence against women is also fundamental to ensuring their full participation in society.

The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, is an independent agency of the U.S. Federal Government established in 1976. With a mandate spanning over four decades, the Commission has been tasked with monitoring compliance with the principles and commitments of the Helsinki Accords. The Helsinki Commission engages in a broad array of activities aimed at promoting human rights, democracy, and various forms of cooperation within the OSCE region.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE leaders and anti-trafficking experts underscore need to rethink prevention methods to address evolving trafficking tactics

Tue, 04/16/2024 - 16:20

VIENNA, 16 April 2024 – At the 24th Conference of the Alliance against Trafficking in Persons, OSCE leaders and anti-trafficking experts called on the 57 OSCE participating States to move beyond awareness-raising campaigns, underscoring the urgent need to re-evaluate prevention efforts in the face of evolving trafficking tactics.  

With participation from national authorities, international and civil society organizations, and the private sector, the annual Alliance conference is a landmark event within the global anti-trafficking community.

In his opening remarks, Chair-in-Office of the OSCE and Foreign Minister of Malta Ian Borg stated, “Malta is prioritizing combating trafficking in persons for our Chairpersonship of the OSCE this year. Addressing this significant threat to our security begins with the political will that is necessary to develop robust systems that empower the vulnerable members in our societies.” Underscoring the need for a joint effort to overcome this widespread issue, Chair-in-Office Borg added, “These challenges cannot be tackled by one participating State alone. As Chair of the OSCE, Malta remains committed to enhancing our collective OSCE efforts to effectively prevent this heinous crime.”

This year, there was a strong focus on uncovering lesser-known forms of trafficking, such as trafficking for forced criminality and the resulting blurred lines between victim and perpetrator. The need to update prevention efforts to target the vulnerabilities traffickers exploit – gender, social and economic inequalities, and inherent and circumstantial vulnerabilities – in their trafficking tactics was also explored during the conference.

“If we are to ever defeat trafficking, and this undoubtedly must be our shared ambition, effective approaches to prevention must be the bedrock upon which our anti-trafficking efforts are built,” said OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid. “Preventing trafficking in human beings from taking place is the best way to truly protect vulnerable groups and deprive traffickers of the illicit proceeds the crime generates.”

During panels and break-out sessions, participants discussed concrete ways to reshape trafficking prevention. These include bridging the gap between data and action, as well as measures that can put a stop to human trafficking in its existing forms while also preventing the emergence of new forms of trafficking. With survivor experts on each panel, the conference also underscored the importance of integrating the expertise of those with lived experience of human trafficking to improve and innovate effective prevention measures.

“Traffickers prey on the marginalized and most vulnerable. But we are witnessing an emerging trend where the demographic profile of trafficking victims is also expanding, at pace with the digital developments in which we are living,” said Dr. Kari Johnstone, OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Human Trafficking. “We are witnessing an evolution of trafficking where it intersects or even merges with other crimes such as drugs, or fraud and scams where perpetrators are disguised behind victims.”

More than 800 participants from the OSCE region and beyond registered for this year’s Alliance conference, with a record-breaking 481 in-person registrations, underscoring the continued impact and relevance of the OSCE’s anti-trafficking work.

More information about the 24th Conference of the Alliance against Trafficking in Persons can be found here

Categories: Central Europe

Empowering Central Asian Voices: OSCE and the EU launch Young Women for Peace Initiative for the region

Tue, 04/16/2024 - 15:00
566791 Communication and Media Relations Section

Reiterating OSCE commitments to advance gender equality and promote the inclusion of youth in the peace and security agenda, the OSCE Gender Issues Programme with the financial support of the European Union and in close co-operation with the OSCE Programme Office in Bishkek and the OSCE Academy launched the Young Women for Peace Initiative for Central Asia.

The opening event, held on 15 April 2024 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, marked the start of a two-year programme designed to empower young women in Central Asia and enhance their involvement in peace and security processes. The participants of the programme - eighteen young women change-makers from the five Central Asian countries and Afghanistan selected through a competitive process - will undergo tailored capacity-building sessions, network with peers and mentors, and receive support for cross-border projects.

Opening the event, Lara Scarpitta, OSCE Senior Advisor on Gender Issues, underscored the importance of the initiative and the profound impact of empowering young women in peacebuilding efforts. “Young women are the future of peacebuilding! Investing in them means investing in peace. Our initiative recognizes that young women face double obstacles in being both young and a woman, and takes action to empower them to play an active role in peacebuilding and conflict resolution,” she said.

Marilyn Josefson, Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union to the Kyrgyz Republic stated: “Today’s launch highlights the vital role that youth and women have as change-making actors in our societies. Their unique perspectives, resilience and innovative ideas are essential in shaping sustainable and inclusive peace processes. Their energy, passion and fresh viewpoints also help us to challenge conventional wisdom and inspire creative solutions to age-old conflicts.”

During the event, participants had the opportunity to discuss concrete strategies and approaches to enhance the meaningful participation of young women in conflict resolution and peacebuilding. They also identified the challenges and opportunities for young women peacebuilders in Central Asia, as well as their expectations and recommendations for the international community on how to support their work.

Ambassador Alexey Rogov, Head of the OSCE Programme Office in Bishkek, emphasized the crucial role of young women in conflict prevention and resolution, stating that "their meaningful participation is essential for fostering peaceful and stable societies in the Central Asian region." He stressed the importance of investing in networks and providing support to young women.

The opening was also attended by the representatives of the UN Agencies, donors, and civil society organizations working on youth engagement and gender equality in Central Asia.

Following the opening event, participants of the Young Women for Peace Initiative will engage in a four-day comprehensive capacity-building program aimed at enhancing their peacebuilding skills. The program will include sessions to deepen their understanding of OSCE initiatives, facilitate networking among women change-makers across borders, assess individual and group needs for further mentorship, share best practices in gender and peacebuilding leadership, and develop essential skills in network building.

The Young Women for Peace Initiative is part of the OSCE’s Networking Platform for Women Leaders including Peacebuilders and Mediators launched by the OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid in December 2021. It is implemented under the multi-year ExB project “WIN for Women and Men on strengthening comprehensive security through innovating and networking for gender equality”.

Categories: Central Europe

Courts in Kosovo should ensure consistency and fairness in sentencing of illegal weapons possession cases, OSCE report recommends

Tue, 04/16/2024 - 11:22
566764 Therese Abrahamsen Edita Buçaj Sentencing in cases of illegal possession of weapons

PRISHTINË / PRIŠTINA, 16 April 2024 - The OSCE Mission today published its latest focused report on sentencing practices in cases involving illegal possession of weapons.

The report analyses data collected from December 2020 to August 2023, and assesses court sentencing practices for compliance with fair trial and international human rights standards, with a focus on just and consistent sentencing.

The analysis points to two main shortcomings related to sentencing practices illegal possession of weapons cases: inadequate assessment of aggravating and mitigating circumstances; and inconsistency in sentencing outcomes.

In approximately 25 per cent of the cases monitored, courts improperly considered as aggravating factors general and non-individual circumstances. These included unauthorized possession of weapons being a “recent type of offense” or “more frequent in Kosovo”.

Further, the Kosovo legal framework does not adequately distinguish the type of weapon and degree of harm posed, leading to clear discrepancies in sentencing throughout Kosovo courts. Consequently, 31 out of 33 cases resulted in a fine of similar amounts (400 EUR as the most common) for cases involving different weapons, ranging from pepper spray to semi-automatic firearms, that posed vastly different dangers and seriousness.

“In sentencing, judges have a duty to uphold sentencing consistency and fairness, ensure that the punishment reflects the circumstances of a given case. This is key to a fair and impartial justice system,” said Michael Davenport, Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo.

The report concludes with recommendations directed toward key counterparts in the Kosovo judicial system, including tailored training for judges and prosecutors and amendments to the legislative framework and guidelines.

The full report is available here: https://www.osce.org/mission-in-kosovo/566683

Categories: Central Europe

Functioning of Business Ombudsperson in focus of OSCE seminar in Turkmenistan

Mon, 04/15/2024 - 13:50
566716 OSCE Centre in Ashgabat

Best practices of the OSCE participating States in establishing business ombudsperson institutions and protecting the rights and legitimate interests of business entities were shared during an OSCE-organized seminar that took place on 15 April 2024 in Ashgabat.

The event brought together representatives of the Mejlis (Parliament) of Turkmenistan, Office of the Ombudsperson, Institute of State, Law and Democracy, Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of Turkmenistan, as well as relevant ministries and institutions of higher education.

The seminar presented the history, international experiences and prospects for the development of the business ombudsperson institution. An international expert briefed participants on institutional reforms and improvement of the business ombudsperson institution, and provided practical examples on the digitalization of the system of protection of entrepreneurs’ rights.

Within its mandate, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe supports sustainable economic growth and strengthens international economic co-operation in multiple areas,” said William Leaf, Acting Economic and Environmental Officer of the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat.

“At the same time, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including economic freedoms, is a key element of the OSCE's comprehensive approach to security,” added Leaf.

Participants exchanged views on the role of the business ombudsperson in supporting the development of small and medium enterprises with special emphasis on women-owned SMEs.

Categories: Central Europe

Chair-in-Office Borg reiterates full commitment for continued OSCE engagement during Moldova visit

Sat, 04/13/2024 - 09:10

CHISINAU/VALLETTA, 13 April 2024 – Chair-in-Office of the OSCE, Maltese Minister for Foreign and European Affairs Ian Borg concluded his first visit to Moldova. Minister Borg underscored the OSCE's commitment to actively continue its engagement in Moldova, focusing on advancing the Transdniestrian Settlement Process and strengthening the Organization's work on the ground.

“Supporting peace and facilitating dialogue towards durable and mutually agreed solutions is a priority of the Maltese Chairpersonship,” stated Minister Borg, underlining Malta’s commitment to promote and sustain the OSCE’s role in resolving conflicts across the OSCE region, preventing escalation and restoring stability.

Reflecting on three decades of engagement in Moldova, the Chair-in-Office underlined that "the OSCE has built a strong and trusted partnership with the government and civil society organizations, and the Organization will continue to use its experience and expertise to support Moldova in addressing the challenges that the country is facing."

In Chisinau, Minister Borg met with President Maia Sandu, Prime Minister Dorin Recean and Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration, Oleg Serebrian and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Mihai Popsoi. The discussions focused on the Transdniestrian settlement process, highlighting the Organization’s role in fostering constructive dialogue and deepening trust to move this process forward. 

The Chair-in-Office Borg held a meeting with Transdniestrian leader Vadim Krasnoselsky and Transdniestrian Chief Negotiator Vitaly Ignatiev in Bender.

“We greatly appreciate the fact that both Sides have constantly reiterated their commitment to resolving all open issues, as well as the conflict as such in an exclusively peaceful manner,” stated Minister Borg, adding that “the Maltese Chairpersonship strongly supports constructive communication channels to remain open to all co-mediators and observers with the aim of keeping the settlement process on track”.

“Through its Mission to Moldova and my Special Representative, the OSCE will continue to work towards a peaceful, comprehensive, and lasting settlement based on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova within its internationally recognized borders with a special status for Transdniestria within Moldova,” affirmed Minister Borg.

The OSCE Mission to Moldova continues to facilitate progress on confidence-building measures between the Sides, including the importation of X-ray machines to Transdniestria and the reopening of Vehicle Registration Offices. These steps are crucial in enhancing mutual trust and cooperation, highlighting the Mission's pivotal role in fostering security and supporting the ongoing settlement process in the region.

The Minister’s agenda included a meeting with the Special Representative on Gender, Liliana Palihovici. The discussions focused on the important role of the OSCE  in promoting human rights and gender equality in the country.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Presence organizes exchange visit for Albanian journalists to Sweden to enhance media reporting on security affairs

Fri, 04/12/2024 - 22:40
566638

Nine journalists from the main media outlets in Albania and two media relations officials from the Ministry of Interior and State Police participated in an exchange visit to Stockholm, Sweden, organized by the OSCE Presence in Albania as part of its small arms and light weapons (SALW) project, from 8 to 11 April 2024. The activity – the second of this kind – aimed at enhancing the media engagement in addressing security issues.

The Albanian delegation visited the newsroom of the Sveriges Television (SVT) and discussed with SVT journalists reporting on security affairs. They also met with relevant Swedish government and non-government officials, including media organizations, and were introduced with innovative awareness raising campaigns in which media acted as a strategic partner on raising awareness and public education.

The recently-developed Awareness Raising and Communication Strategy on the Misuse of SALW identified and highlighted media as a strategic partner to inform and educate the public on the risk and misuse of the firearms, by directly contributing to the SALW Control Roadmap[1] goals.

As part of media development efforts, the SALW project is conducting monitoring on current state of media reporting and assessing the capacity building needs for the Albanian journalist reporting on security and gender-based violence affairs. Based on the findings, the project will further develop a media handbook, followed by training sessions for journalists.

The exchange visit is part of a series of capacity building efforts to enhance the role of media in public awareness raising campaigns and in assessing journalists’ capacity building needs regarding quality reporting. The first media exchange visit was organized in Belgrade in December 2022.

The visit to Stockholm was organized with the support of the Embassy of Sweden in Tirana, Swedish Union of Journalists, SVT, Swedish Police, Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency and Non-Violence Project Sweden.

The project “Assisting the national authorities of the Republic of Albania to decrease the risk of weapon proliferation and misuse of SALW” is implemented by the OSCE Presence in Albania, with the financial support of the European Union, Germany and France.

[1] https://www.seesac.org/f/docs/publications-salw-control-roadmap/Regional-Roadmap-for-a-sustainable-solution-to-the.pdf

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE conducts specialized training for civil society and private sector in Ukraine on advancing transparency through open data

Fri, 04/12/2024 - 14:10
566611

In a world where open data plays a crucial role in fostering transparency and accountability, the OSCE continues its commitment to supporting open data initiatives in Ukraine. As part of this endeavor, the Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities (OCEEA) concluded two two-day training courses aimed at empowering representatives from civil society, journalism, research, and the private sector with specialized knowledge of open data tools and digital tools in Ukraine.

The training courses, titled “Open Data for businesses and the civil society”, were organized with the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine and with Texty.org.ua, an independent analytical media organization.

The two courses, which took place on 4 and 5 April and 11 and 12 April in Kyiv, equipped participants with practical skills and insights into how to use open data for research, analysis, and decision-making processes. The course programme also encompassed a wide range of topics tailored to the specific needs of journalists, activists, researchers, and business professionals.

More specifically, the training course for the civil society covered essential areas such as anti-corruption measures, open-source intelligence, data journalism, sociological information, and machine statistics. Participants also gained insights into accessing public information and open data, along with practical guidance on how to create impactful projects based on open data.

The training for entrepreneurs, on the other hand, delved into the transformative potential of open data for business development. Topics included market research and analysis, process automation, and the creation of open data-driven startups. Success stories and case studies were shared with participants to illustrate the real-world impact of open data on business operations and strategic decision-making.

Each training session featured interactive sessions, panel discussions and practical workshops facilitated by industry experts and practitioners. Participants also had the opportunity to collaborate, share experiences and explore innovative approaches to leveraging open data for their respective domains.

"The OSCE remains steadfast in its commitment to promoting transparency, accountability, and innovation through open data initiatives," said Olena Dobrunik, Assistant Project Officer at OCEEA. "These training courses underscore our dedication to empowering diverse stakeholders with the knowledge and tools they need to harness the full potential of open data for transparent societies and steady economic growth."

The OSCE’s focus on digitalization and open data underscores its commitment to fostering good governance and improving the business climate in the country, and highlights the immense opportunities that digital tools offer in enhancing transparency to prevent and combat corruption.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE seminar addresses methane emission management in Turkmenistan

Fri, 04/12/2024 - 12:52
566599 OSCE Centre in Ashgabat

Implementation of methane emission regulating system was in focus of an OSCE-organized seminar that took place on 11 and 12 April 2024.

The OSCE Centre in Ashgabat organized the two-day event to share OSCE best practices and international experiences in carbon credit trading and present state measures aimed at methane emission management.

The seminar brought together representatives of State Concerns “Turkmengas”, “Turkmenoil” and “Turkmengeology” as well as the Ministry of Environmental Protection and other relevant bodies.

An international expert elaborated on state policies to regulate and reduce methane emission, quota trading scheme in the OSCE region and preparation of inventory reporting.

“This seminar is organized as part of the Centre’s support to the government of Turkmenistan in promoting ecological security, and is expected to reinforce its efforts to reduce methane emission within the framework of the Global Methane Pledge,” said William Leaf, Acting Economic and Environmental Officer.

Participants got insights into the calculation of carbon footprint, procedure for issuing carbon credits and mechanism of transboundary carbon regulation.

Categories: Central Europe

Changing narratives on women’s entrepreneurship in Montenegro: OSCE presents communication strategy in Podgorica

Fri, 04/12/2024 - 12:17
566584

The Office of the Coordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities (OCEEA) presented a communication strategy which it developed for the Ministry of Economic Development of Montenegro to support women’s entrepreneurship in the country. The strategy, along with a study, was launched at an event in Podgorica on “Challenging Stereotypes and Changing Narratives to Women’s Entrepreneurship in Montenegro”. 

The event was opened by Andjela Gajevic, Director General of the Directorate for Improving Competitiveness in the Ministry of Economic Development who thanked the OSCE for the communication strategy and stressed that it will be instrumental for improving policies and developing initiatives to promote women’s entrepreneurship. It will also serve as a baseline for a new strategy. 

Ambassador Dominique Waag, Head of the OSCE Mission to Montenegro, welcomed participants and stressed that “empowering women to become successful entrepreneurs is not just a matter of fairness of equality – it is an investment in the future with far-reaching economic, social, and cultural returns”. 

The event presented a study on attitudes towards women’s entrepreneurship in Montenegro and showcased four short films produced by students of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts of the University of Cetinje which addressed some of the limiting attitudes women place on themselves, such as lack of confidence in their own talents and abilities. A panel discussion ensued among women entrepreneurs who discussed some of the stereotypes and socio-cultural norms holding women back from starting their own businesses and what can be done to overcome them, specifically looking at motivations and obstacles such as “imposter syndrome”.

“Promoting a female entrepreneurial culture is an integral component of an enabling eco-system that can foster women’s entrepreneurship, particularly in an increasingly competitive and digitalized business environment, as well as being key to economic empowerment.  This includes tackling gender stereotypes and addressing cultural norms that can negatively influence women’s career choices and opportunities,” said Vera Strobachova Budway, acting Senior Economic Officer and Head of the Economic Governance Unit at the OSCE.

The event was part of the OCEEA’s “I WILL” project, which stands for Inspiring Women’s Initiative taking for Lasting Leadership. The project was launched in 2021 with the aim of supporting the Ministry of Economic Development of Montenegro in implementing the National Strategy for Women’s Entrepreneurship 2021-2024.  The main objective of the project was to provide the Ministry of Economic Development with an evidence-based public communication strategy that challenges gender stereotypes, social norms and consequent behaviours that limit women’s initiative-taking and leadership in Montenegro.

Categories: Central Europe

Returning to meaningful dialogue central to strengthening resilience and enhancing security, says OSCE Chair-in-Office Borg after concluding Kosovo visit

Thu, 04/11/2024 - 16:29

PRISHTINË/PRIŠTINA, 12 April 2024 – OSCE Chair-in-Office, Malta’s Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade, Ian Borg, concluded his one-day visit in Kosovo, emphasizing the OSCE’s key role in promoting dialogue, strengthening democratic institutions and rule of law.

Reflecting on 25 years of partnership, Minister Borg highlighted the OSCE's strong collaborations and continued engagement in Kosovo. “Our joint efforts over these years, to advance rule of law, enhance inter-municipal co-operation and support the role of young people in promoting dialogue and trust building, such as the OSCE Dialogue Academy for Young Women, are evidence of our mutual commitment and achievements. We are determined to continue this vital co-operation,” remarked Minister Borg.

The Chair-in-Office underscored the importance of finding common ground through sustained dialogue. “Our focus remains on fostering unity by building on what brings us together as opposed to what divides us,” Minister Borg said.

The visit included fruitful meetings with President Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu, Prime Minister Albin Kurti, and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Donika Gërvalla-Schwarz, focusing on leveraging the OSCE's support and expertise in implementing key reforms. Minister Borg underlined the importance of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and reaffirmed the OSCE's commitment to assist in the implementation of reached agreements.

The Chair-in-Office reiterated the pivotal role of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, underscoring its track record in effectively building capacity across key areas such as good governance, especially at municipal level, freedom of expression, and human rights, in the interest of every community in Kosovo.

During his visit to the Mission, Minister Borg commended the unwavering dedication of the entire staff, led by the Head of Mission, Michael Davenport, praising their dedication and significant contributions. “Through our Mission in Kosovo, we will continue working together with partners toward our common goal of strengthening democratic and multi-ethnic society in Kosovo, with respect for all communities’ rights,” he affirmed.

Minister Borg also engaged with local civil society organizations and community representatives from various municipalities, focusing on critical issues, such as community rights, youth participation, women's empowerment, and efforts to combat domestic violence.

Highlighting the significant contribution of the OSCE in fostering trust and co-operation at the municipal level, the Chair-in-Office visited the OSCE Regional Centre in Gjilan/Gnjilane where he met with a group of local mayors, NGOs, and community representatives. Minister Borg also met Bishop Teodosije, emphasizing the pivotal role of religious leaders in promoting tolerance and non-discrimination among all communities.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE helps Kyrgyzstan improve project Monitoring & Evaluation for Local Development Funds, stimulating regional growth

Thu, 04/11/2024 - 12:04
Chyngyz Zhanybekov Aida Almazbekova

The OSCE Programme Office in Bishkek provided support to the Ministry of Economy and Commerce of the Kyrgyz Republic by developing a comprehensive methodology aimed at enhancing the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) practices of projects funded by the Local Development Funds (LDFs).

Established in 2015 by the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic, LDFs serve as a vital mechanism for empowering communities and promoting local economic development. They support priority initiatives identified by communities, municipalities, and local self-governance bodies, thereby improving citizens' living standards and fostering economic growth. 

The newly developed methodology aims to standardize M&E practices across 46 LDFs in Kyrgyzstan. This initiative addresses previous non-standardized approaches, ensuring that M&E efforts align with regulatory standards, thereby enhancing their effectiveness and promoting systemic implementation.

By adopting a standardized methodology for project monitoring and evaluation, Kyrgyzstan's LDFs will enhance their operational efficiency. This systematic approach not only strengthens the accountability and transparency of LDF operations but also fosters greater confidence among stakeholders, ultimately contributing to advancing regional development in the country.

For more information, please refer to the following source:

Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Kyrgyz Republic dated 12 October 2023, No. 545, regarding amendments to the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Kyrgyz Republic "On approval of the Model Regulation on Regional Development Funds" dated 16 January 2023, No. 20. Постановление Кабинета Министров Кыргызской Республики от 1 (minjust.gov.kg)

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Chair-in-Office Borg to visit Moldova

Thu, 04/11/2024 - 09:40

VALLETTA/VIENNA, 11 April 2024 — The OSCE Chair-in-Office, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade of Malta Ian Borg will visit the Republic of Moldova on 12 April for talks with high-level Moldovan officials and the leadership in Tiraspol.

During his first visit to Moldova as OSCE Chair-in-Office, Borg will focus on the OSCE’s work in Moldova and advancing the Transdniestrian Settlement Process. He will also discuss the challenges facing the country in the context of the ongoing war against Ukraine.

In Chisinau, the OSCE Chair Borg will meet with President Maia Sandu, Prime Minister Dorin Recean, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Moldova, Mihai Popșoi, and Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration Oleg Serebrian.

In Bender, he will meet with Transdniestrian leader Vadim Krasnoselsky and the Transdniestrian Chief Negotiator Vitaly Ignatiev.

Furthermore, CiO Borg will meet with CiO’s Special Representative on Gender, Liliana Palihovici

On 12 April, the OSCE Chair-in-Office Borg will hold a press conference with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Moldova, Mihai Popșoi, at 09:40 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Journalists are also invited to attend a concluding press briefing with Chair-in-Office Borg at 18:50 inside of the Delegation Hall of the Chisinau International Airport. 

Media representatives are reminded to have their press accreditation documents on them to be able to attend the press briefing.

For more information, please contact the Press Office of the OSCE Mission to Moldova, at +373 22 887 887 (landline), e-mail: mtmpress@osce.org.

For other requests regarding the visit, please contact Thomas Attard from the OSCE Chairpersonship of Malta by e-mail: thomas.attard.1@gov.mt.

The latest information from the OSCE CiO of Malta can be found at https://www.osce.org/chairpersonship and on Twitter: @MinisterIanBorg and @OSCE24MT.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Chair-in-Office Borg concludes visit to Serbia, reaffirms continued partnership with the country

Wed, 04/10/2024 - 13:20

BELGRADE, 10 April 2024 — OSCE Chair-in-Office and Malta’s Minister of Foreign and European Affairs and Trade, Ian Borg, concluded his visit to Serbia, reaffirming the OSCE’s steadfast commitment to the region and its continued partnership with Serbia.

“Our collaboration with Serbia is a testament to the tangible results we can achieve together. It illustrates our shared commitment to advancing critical areas such as the rule of law, human rights, democratization, and media freedom, thereby strengthening the very fabric of our shared security," stated Minister Borg.

Minister’s Borg agenda featured a series of high-level meetings that underscored the breadth and depth of the OSCE's efforts in Serbia and the wider region. In his discussions with President Aleksandar Vučić, National Assembly Speaker Ana Brnabić, First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić, and Deputy Prime Minister/Minister of Defence and Prime Minister designate Miloš Vučević, the Chair-in-Office focused on the implementation of key reforms and the importance of fostering regional stability. All interlocutors expressed appreciation for the strong partnership with the OSCE, recognizing the organization's significant role in facilitating progress in the region.

The Chair-in-Office highlighted the integral function of the OSCE as a key forum for dialogue on comprehensive security, rooted in shared principles and commitments. "Guided by the spirit of our motto, 'Strengthening Resilience, Enhancing Security,' we believe that only through dialogue can we effectively address challenges in a way that not only preserves security but actively strengthens it," Minister Borg remarked.

During a visit to the OSCE Mission to Serbia led by the Head of Mission, Jan Braathu, Minister Borg personally commended the staff for their unwavering dedication to fulfilling the Mission’s mandate. “Their professionalism is the cornerstone of our achievements in Serbia,” he stated.

At a roundtable with media and journalists’ associations, Minister Borg highlighted the crucial role that free and independent media play in democratic societies. “Freedom of the media is a priority for the OSCE and central to our collective commitment to uphold the core values of democracy. The right to freedom of expression is fundamental for peace, security, and justice. Malta’s Chairpersonship of the OSCE is determined to pursue efforts to nurture an environment where all journalists, especially female journalists, can effectively pursue their work free from intimidation or harassment,” he emphasized.

Chair-in-Office Borg also met with various youth groups, affirming the importance of their inclusion in the OSCE’s peace and security agenda. “The energy, innovation, and engagement of young people are indispensable in shaping a more secure and peaceful future,” said Minister Borg.

Categories: Central Europe

Beyond Awareness-Raising - Reshaping Human Trafficking Prevention: OSCE to hold 24th Alliance against Trafficking in Persons Conference

Wed, 04/10/2024 - 10:06

VIENNA, 10 April 2024 – From 15 to 16 April 2024, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe will be hosting the 24th Conference of the Alliance against Trafficking in Persons at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna.

The conference is a platform for key stakeholders, including national authorities, international and civil society organizations, and the private sector, to discuss concrete steps to address the global threat of human trafficking. With the aim of elevating anti-trafficking action beyond awareness-raising campaigns, conference participants will discuss approaches to preventing human trafficking by identifying gaps in current prevention methods, uncovering and addressing lesser-known forms of trafficking, and addressing ways to empower vulnerable populations.

Speakers include OSCE Chair-in-Office, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade of Malta Ian Borg; OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid; OSCE Special Representative for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings Kari Johnstone; Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Matteo Mecacci; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Education and Sports of the Principality of Liechtenstein Dominique Hasler; Deputy of the Majilis of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan Marat Bashimov, Greek Deputy Minister of Migration and Asylum Sofia Voultepsi; Deputy Director General of the International Organization for Migration Ugochi Daniels, and experts with lived experience of trafficking.

High-level representatives of anti-trafficking authorities from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Türkiye, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and experts from international organizations, will also be speaking at the Conference. 

The conference will be conducted in person. It will also be livestreamed on osce.org/live

Journalists are welcome to register and participate. Each panel discussion will be followed by Q&A session.

Registration for participation will be open until Friday, 12 April, 17:00 CEST (UTC/GMT+2).

For more information, please contact Public Information Officer Lilia Rotoloni (Lilia.Rotoloni@osce.org) or OSCE Communication and Media Relations Section (press@osce.org).

Follow @osce_cthb on Twitter and @OSCE Combating Trafficking in Human Beings (CTHB) on LinkedIn to join the discussion.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE-supported public opinion research shows a slight increase in confidence in elections in Montenegro

Wed, 04/10/2024 - 09:08
Marina Živaljević

Research examining public confidence in elections in Montenegro has shown that in 2023 58 per cent of people thought elections were free and fair as compared to 47 per cent in 2022. 32 per cent of citizens believe that electoral reform in Montenegro is needed, while almost a half of them (46%) is of the opinion that electoral reform needs to be implemented urgently.

These are some of the findings of the survey “Building transparent and inclusive elections in Montenegro”, commissioned by the OSCE Mission to Montenegro and conducted by the Damar Agency on a representative national sample of 1,200 respondents conducted in 2023 following the presidential and parliamentary elections.

The report shows that 6 in 10 people think the commissioners in the State Election Commission (SEC) should not be affiliated to political parties and 68.9 per cent said political parties have influence over the commissioners in SEC and municipal electoral commissions.

The research also found that 31 per cent of voters are generally satisfied with the voting process, slightly higher than in 2022, when 26 per cent of voters said they were satisfied. As the SEC and the Mission have jointly conducted voter education campaings in 2023, the number of respondents said that they were not sufficielntly informed on how the voting process works fell from 41 per cent in 2021 to 21 per cent in 2023. 

Three quarters of respondents are still of the opinion that hate speech and electoral fraud remain as problems. A majority of respondents (70 per cent) believe that barriers to disabled people’s political participation are an issue.  

“Work is now needed to ensure public confidence in elections continues to grow. Electoral reform committee will play a key role in achieving this through implementing f ODIHR’s recommendations issued last December,” said Head of Mission Dominique Waag.

SEC chair Nikola Mugoša thanked the Mission for tracking public attitudes towards different aspects of elections. “State Election Commission stands ready to work with Parliament’s Electoral Reform Committee to improve electoral legislation and to ensure that public confidence in elections continues to grow,” said Mugoša.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE calls for enhanced interfaith and intercultural dialogue to address rising anti-Semitism and all forms of intolerance and discrimination

Tue, 04/09/2024 - 15:50

VALLETTA – 9 April 2024 - Marking two decades since the historic 2004 Berlin Declaration, the 2024 Conference on Anti-Semitism in the OSCE region reviewed the advancements in countering anti-Semitism and discussed how persisting challenges can be effectively addressed. This Conference is a follow-up to the yearly OSCE Chairs-in-Office conferences and meetings dedicated to addressing anti-Semitism.

Representatives from OSCE participating States recognized the evolving nature of anti-Semitism and its threat to security and stability across the OSCE region. It was widely acknowledged that despite progress, acts of violence, harassment, and discrimination remain prevalent, including online and offline hate speech, property damage, and threats against Jewish individuals and communities.

Reflecting on the pervasive shadow of religious and ethnic prejudice, the Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade of Malta and Chair-in-Office of the OSCE, Ian Borg, emphasized the need for a shift from rhetoric to concrete action. “United in this cause, we continue affirming our collective resolve to effectively address such hatred and foster inclusive and equitable societies where diversity is not just tolerated but celebrated,” Borg asserted.

With hate crime data from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) reporting an increase of more than 40% in anti-Semitic acts from 2021 to 2022, the conference focused on the need to address under-reporting of hate crimes and to adapt existing strategies to tackle the challenges posed by online hate, including the proliferation of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories across digital platforms.

“History reminds us of the horrific consequences when anti-Semitic prejudice and hatred spread or are actively promoted,” said ODIHR Director Matteo Mecacci. “We must work harder together to form tolerant, open and inclusive societies, to give us all and particularly the younger generation hope for a future without hate.”

Participants highlighted the impact of the renewed escalation of violence in the Middle East following the attacks of 7 October, on Jewish and Muslim communities across the OSCE region. In light of these challenges, the Maltese Chairpersonship emphasised the importance of interfaith and intercultural dialogue in increasing tolerance and understanding. This focus was underscored by the valuable insights from the OSCE Chair-in-Office’s Personal Representatives on issues of tolerance and non-discrimination, namely; Rabbi Andrew Baker, Ambassador Evren Dağdelen Akgün and Dr Regina Polak.

Rabbi Andrew Baker, the Personal Representative of the Chair-in-Office on Combating Anti-Semitism stated that “When OSCE participating States met in Berlin twenty years ago, they were facing a resurgence of antisemitism which only some governments recognized and fewer still had the means to combat. Today we have considerable tools and guidelines accompanied by significant OSCE commitments. And yet, rather than celebrating this success, we are forced to acknowledge that this stubbornly persistent age-old hatred has reached unprecedented levels, especially in the months since 7 October. We must find the way to protect and reassure vulnerable Jewish communities throughout the OSCE region and restore the civility, cohesion, and respect for diversity that bind us together.”

Looking ahead, the 2024 Conference set a renewed agenda for the OSCE and its participating States to close gaps in the fight against anti-Semitism and to strengthen efforts in building trust and peaceful coexistence across religious and cultural boundaries.

All OSCE states have unequivocally condemned all forms of intolerance and anti-Semitism. The 2024 Chair remains committed to combating anti-Semitic hatred, building on the foundation laid by the Berlin Declaration and the collective experiences of the past two decades. Together, we reaffirm our dedication to a future free of anti-Semitism and all forms of intolerance.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Chair-in-Office Borg to visit Kosovo

Tue, 04/09/2024 - 11:41

VALLETTA/VIENNA, 9 April 2024 — The OSCE Chair-in-Office, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade of Malta, Ian Borg, will visit Kosovo on 11 April to discuss OSCE engagement and meet political leaders.

During his visit, Chair-in-Office Borg will meet President Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu, Prime Minister Albin Kurti, and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Donika Gërvalla-Schwarz.

He will also hold meetings with the Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, Michael Davenport, and Mission staff, as well as meeting with alumnae from the OSCE-established Dialogue Academy.

Chair-in-Office Borg will travel to the OSCE Regional Center in Gjilan/Gnjilane to meet with local civil society organizations and community representatives from different municipalities to discuss community rights, youth engagement and women’s empowerment. He will meet with mayors representing different communities to discuss OSCE-supported inter-municipal co-operation. Minister Borg will also hold a meeting with Bishop Teodosije from the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Chair-in-Office Borg will give a brief press point at the OSCE Mission in Kosovo Headquarters in Prishtinë/Priština at 1630 hrs. Interested media are kindly asked to be at the OSCE premises by 1615 hrs.     

Contacts:

Thomas Attard
CiO Spokesperson
+356 2204 3347
thomas.attard.1@gov.mt

Therese Abrahamsen
A/Head of Political and Communications OfficeOSCE Mission in Kosovo
+383 49 957 426
Therese.Abrahamsen@osce.org

Categories: Central Europe

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