VIENNA (QHA) -

The Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, by its decision taken at a meeting in Vienna on March 16, agreed to extend the Mandate of the Special Observer Mission in Ukraine for one year, until 31 March 2018. The decision was published on the organization's website.

The decision also sets the Mission’s budget at € 105.5 million for the period from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018.

The OSCE Permanent Council is one of the main regular legislative bodies of the Organization, in which representatives of all the 57 OSCE member States participate.

Background: The SMM OSCE in Ukraine has been operating since March 21, 2014 at the invitation of the Government of Ukraine; Its mandate covers the entire territory of Ukraine, including the Crimea and the entire territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The Mission employs more than 700 international observers, including over 600 people in the conflict zone in Donbas, who monitor the situation on both sides of the contact line in groups of unarmed patrols (during daylight hours) and with UAV and surveillance cameras (round the clock). However, observers do not have the actual access to part of the territory of the occupied Donbas and completely to the Crimea. In particular, there is no observation along the uncontrolled section of the Ukrainian-Russian border in Donbas.

February 2, at a meeting of the UN Security Council, Austria's Foreign Minister, OSCE Chairperson Sebastian Kurtz said that the OSCE intends to increase the number of observers in its Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine and to strengthen its technical capabilities, as well as to increase patrolling hours along the contact line. Despite the opposition of the Russian side, the establishment of the OSCE observation posts along the uncontrolled section of the Ukrainian-Russian border is being actively discussed.

PHOTO: Internet

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