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Russia’s Foreign Ministry accuses OSCE envoy for national minorities of biased approach

December 02, 2015, 11:43 UTC+3
Moscow says field activities of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are becoming increasingly less relevant, therefore the missions in some countries should be closed
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© Gennady Lhameliyanin/TASS Archive

MOSCOW, December 2. /TASS/. Political engagement, a biased approach and double standards are evident in the activity of OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Astrid Thors, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a comment released on Wednesday.

"There are many claims to the work of High Commissioner on National Minorities Thors," the document says.

‘We’re urging the High Commissioner on National Minorities to deal closely with actual threats related to her mandate, including the current mass influx of refugees, the problem of stateless persons in Latvia and Estonia, the steady rise in the manifestations of racism, xenophobia and neo-Nazism in Western Europe, clashes on racial grounds in the United States and the violation of the rights of national minorities, including the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in its comment.

"Unfortunately, political engagement, a biased approach and double standards are obvious in the activity of Thors, which undermines the authority of the institution itself," the ministry said.

"We’ll take this position into account when considering the issue of extending the work of Thors whose mandate as the High Commissioner on National Minorities expires on August 19, 2016," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

OSCE field activities are losing relevance, missions should be closed

The statement also runs that field activities of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are becoming increasingly less relevant, therefore the missions in some countries should be closed

"Our assessment of the OSCE field activities shows that they are losing their relevance and appeal," the document says. "In accordance with the Charter for European Security, the missions should transfer their functions to governments and must be closed."

Russia to oppose autonomy of OSCE ODIHR

The foreign ministry is set to continue its efforts against the trend to consolidate the autonomy of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

"Activities of the Office should be based exclusively on the provisions of its mandate and on instructions from the OSCE policy-making organs," the ministry said. "The policy of selective involvement of the Office in the settlement of humanitarian problems at its own discretion is inadmissible. We are against the independent prioritisation of activities that takes place in the ODIHR work".

"They support the non-consensual approaches and projects thus violating the principle of impartiality," the ministry said. "Exceeding the mandates and arbitrary actions that have not received general approval of the member-countries are practised." "A flagrant example is the preparation of the recent infamous ‘opus’ on Crimea by the ODIHR and the High Commissioner on National Minorities with the use of extra-budgetary funds," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

In order to improve the methodology of the international observation of the elections by ODIHR the Russian Foreign Ministry has proposed to organise in the first half of 2016 the corresponding seminar (that is traditionally held every year since 2008).

OSCE media freedom representative accused of double standards

The ministry has also called on OSCE media freedom representative Dunja Mijatovic to adhere to her mandate and not be guided by double standards when assessing the situation with the freedom of speech.

"We note the need for the OSCE media freedom representative to strictly adhere to her mandate," the ministry said in a commentary ahead of the OSCE Ministerial Council’s meeting in Belgrade on December 3-4 to be attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

"Double standards during the assessment of the situation with the freedom of speech are unacceptable as well as the lack of consistent reaction of the representative to restrictive measures of some OSCE countries against Russia’s media resources."

Russia hopes that the OSCE member-states will find "a more competent candidate" to replace Mijatovic whose mandate expires on March 11, 2016, the ministry said.

Moscow will outline its position after holding consultations with the candidates and assessing their statements, and in particular their ability to take into account the concerns of the member-states.

"The work on promoting the freedom of speech needs to take into consideration the changes in the media landscape and the new possibilities amid the development of the Internet and social networks," it said.

"More attention should be paid to increasing the professionalism and responsibility of reporters, fighting against the language of hatred in mass media and the Internet, and the spread of radical information, and countering intolerance, racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism," the statement reads.

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