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VIENNA, June 29 /ITAR-TASS/. The leadership of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has welcomed the release of its monitors in Ukraine and expressed hope that this would help to improve the conditions of their work in that country.
Swiss President and Chairperson-in-Office of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Didier Burkhalter said he was hopeful that the release of the monitors would mark “the beginning of an improving security situation in the eastern region of Ukraine”.
“This would offer the opportunity to the SMM to carry out its mandate to the maximum extent possible and strengthen its role as international presence in the country,” he said.
OSCE Director-General Lamberto Zannier said that “the continued work of the Mission essential in helping to restore peace and stability throughout Ukraine”.
The Chief Monitor, Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan, welcomed the release: “It is with great relief and happiness that we greet news of the release of our colleagues after a month in captivity. Their families, friends and colleagues are waiting for them. We appreciate the efforts undertaken by all the parties towards their release.”
Four OSCE observers were released in the south-east of Ukraine on June 28, the press service of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) confirmed.
“The observers were released at 21:00 Moscow time,” the press service said.
On June 27, DNR Prime Minister Alexander Borodai confirmed that the remaining four monitors would be released shortly. “We pledge to release another four OSCE observers in the next few days,” he said.
Borodai said the released monitors were in Donetsk. “The monitors are already in Donetsk,” he said, adding that they were staying in the city’s Park Inn hotel.
In late May, two groups of OSCE monitors went missing in the east of Ukraine, each made up of four people. Contact with the first group was lost in the Donetsk Region on May 26. The second group was lost in the evening of May 29 when it was at a roadblock near the city of Severodonetsk, Lugansk Region.
One of the groups was released overnight from Thursday to Friday.
The OSCE monitors remain and continue working in Donetsk and Lugansk. It is expected that the de-escalation of the situation would give OSCE SMM an opportunity to continue conducting full scale monitoring where security conditions permit.
The Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine currently consists of 300 civilian unarmed monitors from more than 40 OSCE participating States and local staff from Ukraine. The Mission’s Head Office is in Kiev and there are monitors working in Kherson, Odessa, Lvov, Ivano-Frankovsk, Kharkov, Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Chernovtsy and Lugansk regions.