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Austria as OSCE chair to strengthen monitor mission in Ukraine — top diplomat

January 18, 17:14 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz declared that the OSCE’s task in the east of Ukraine should be to promote ceasefire

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Austria’s foreign minister, Sebastian Kurz

Austria’s foreign minister, Sebastian Kurz

© AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin

MOSCOW, January 18. /TASS/. In its capacity of the OSCE chair Austria is going to improve the personnel and technical component of the Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, Austria’s foreign minister, current OSCE chairman-in-office, Sebastian Kurz told a news conference following his talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday.

"Strengthening the OSCE monitoring mission is a possibility," he said. "The immediate task will be to expand the mission in the region (Ukraine). Improving the human resources and the technical equipment of that mission will be a major item on the agenda. It will be possible to carry out control and monitoring round the clock."

Kurz said "in the current situation fire exchanges and clashes usually occur the moment the group of monitors has left the given area, or during night hours."

"The more permanent such monitoring will be, the safer the situation in the east of Ukraine will become and it will be the region’s residents who will benefit from this," Kurz said.

He declared that the OSCE’s task in the east of Ukraine should be to promote ceasefire.

"First and foremost, to promote the pull-back of all heavy weapons in order to ensure the ceasefire should be guaranteed more tangibly," he said.

Kurz, who last year visited the area of the armed conflict in Donbass, said that "the situation along the engagement line is very bad and very many people suffer."

He is certain that "improving the humanitarian situation in the region is a very important task."

"The OSCE should be present in the region and do its utmost to improve the local people’s conditions," he said. "Moscow here bears very great responsibility and it has the resources to make a contribution to addressing this issue."

Kurz also mentioned the guidelines Austria would be following throughout its OSCE presidency.

"We have selected three main priorities for our OSCE presidency. First, efforts to ease the ongoing conflicts. At the beginning of this year, naturally, we pay much attention to the crisis in Ukraine. Second, the loss of trust. We have lost much of the mutual trust within the OSCE. We should say good-bye to block mentality and make this mentality a bygone. And third, the struggle against radicalization and terrorism, which pose a tremendous threat to the security of our population within the OSCE," he said.

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