• Austria edition
 
International Organizations
The OSCE - a key player in Ukraine
OSCE's Headquarters in Vienna at the Hofburg. Photo: Wikimedia

The OSCE - a key player in Ukraine

Published: 14 May 2014 00:03 GMT+02:00
Updated: 14 May 2014 00:03 GMT+02:00

The OSCE is taking on an ever more important role in the Ukraine crisis, with both Moscow and the West looking to the international security body to help ease tensions.

Here's what you need to know about the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and its current activities in the former Soviet republic.

Cold War beginnings

Based in Vienna, the OSCE began life in the 1970s as a forum for dialogue between East and West and after the Cold War ended in 1990-91 it took on a broader role.

It is now made up of 57 participating states - including Russia, Ukraine and the United States - on three continents. An additional 11 countries are partner nations. The current chair is Switzerland.

Its activities include election monitoring, conflict prevention and resolution, helping states to develop democratic institutions, training police and assisting in military reforms.

There are currently OSCE activities in around 15 countries including parts of the former Yugoslavia - torn apart by wars in the 1990s - as well as former Soviet republics Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Ukraine missions

In Ukraine, the OSCE has nine different fields of activity including a planned 1,000-strong observation mission for the scheduled presidential election on May 25, a "national dialogue project" and a human rights assessment mission.

There is also a military verification mission, eight members of which were kidnapped by pro-Russian militants in the eastern Ukrainian town of Slavyansk on April 25. One was released two days later and the others only on May 3.   

That mission is not however staffed by the OSCE but by military experts from OSCE member states. It was not approved by Russia but was deployed in accordance with the OSCE's so-called Vienna Document agreement of 2011.

Requested by Ukraine, the unarmed mission's aim is to "dispel concerns about unusual military activities". It attempted but failed to enter the annexed peninsula of Crimea four times, with warning shots fired on March 8.

Special Monitoring Mission

The OSCE's principal 'Special Monitoring Mission', which was approved by all states including Russia on March 21 but with no access to Crimea, currently numbers 160 civilian unarmed monitors, supported by local staff, due to rise to 200 by the end of May.

The mission can expand in scope to up to 500 monitors. Their job is to meet with authorities, NGOs, ethnic and religious groups and local communities, gathering facts on the ground and information on the security situation.

Its headquarters are in Kiev, with monitors deployed in teams of ten across the country, including flashpoint areas in the east and south with large ethnic Russian populations.

Roadmap

The OSCE's current chairman, Swiss President Didier Burkhalter, has proposed a "roadmap" aimed at defusing the crisis, visiting the Kremlin last week for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The OSCE has said that Putin had assured Burkhalter in a phone call that he was "supportive" of the plan, which focuses on stopping violence as well as disarmament, national dialogue and elections.

Russia has said it expects pro-Moscow rebels to comply with the roadmap - provided that Kiev authorities stop a military operation in the east and pull back troops.

"We call on the OSCE to secure agreement from Kiev authorities to fully cooperate on these issues," the Russian foreign ministry said.

"The implementation of... the 'roadmap' would create conditions for the start of a broad national dialogue aimed at reconciliation and an all-encompassing constitutional reform designed to prevent the country from further sliding toward catastrophe."

AFP/The Local (rosie.waites@thelocal.com)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Mikl-Leitner gives states asylum ultimatum
Traiskirchen asylum seekers centre. Photo: APA/HANS KLAUS TECHT

Mikl-Leitner gives states asylum ultimatum

Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner (ÖVP) has given an ultimatum to the governors of the five Austrian states that have failed to take in their quota of asylum seekers. READ  

Riot police with water cannon evict squatters
The squatters attempted to block off the street. Photo: APA/Neubauer

Riot police with water cannon evict squatters

Police in riot gear are currently attempting to evict a group of long-term squatters from a house in Vienna’s 2nd district. READ  

My Austrian career
'I came for a boy and stayed for the lifestyle'
Photo: Carly Hulls

'I came for a boy and stayed for the lifestyle'

Carly Hulls is a 27-year-old Australian, who works for an online travel agency and is based in Vienna. She talked to The Local about what brought her to Austria. READ  

100 years since Austria declared war on Serbia
Serbian infantry at Ada Ciganjila. Photo: Vojska Ada Ciganlija/Wikimedia

100 years since Austria declared war on Serbia

July 28 marks the 100th anniversary of the declaration of war by Austria on its neighbour Serbia. The Local looks back at the start of the crisis that was to shape history. READ  

Russia's Ulitskaya wins Austrian literature prize
Photo: Dmitry Rozhkov/Wikimedia

Russia's Ulitskaya wins Austrian literature prize

Russian author Lyudmila Ulitskaya receives this year's Austrian State Prize for European Literature. The award, which is remunerated with €25,000, was presented to Ulitskaya by Minister of Culture Josef Ostermayer (Social Democrats/SPÖ) on Saturday. READ  

OeIAG chief wants to keep stake in Telekom
Rudolf Kemler with America Movil CFO Carlos Garcia Moreno. Photo: APA/Jäger

OeIAG chief wants to keep stake in Telekom

Rudolf Kemler, chief of the state holding company for industry OeIAG which currently holds 28.4 percent of the Telekom Austria shares wants to keep this stake after the increase in capital which is planned for 2015. READ  

Austrians favour EU-wide traffic toll
Photo: Jens Büttner/dpa

Austrians favour EU-wide traffic toll

According to a survey which the Linz-based Market Institute conducted for the business magazine "trend" 73 percent of Austrians support a European wide traffic toll. 27 percent would prefer national solutions within the 28 EU member states. READ  

Salzburg festival opera depicts holocaust victim
French composer Marc-André Dalbavie. Photo: Press Release

Salzburg festival opera depicts holocaust victim

The prestigious Salzburg Festival is known for its classical performances of Mozart and Bach, but this year the spotlight is on a new modern opera telling the story of German artist and Holocaust victim Charlotte Salomon. READ  

Security concerns relocate Israeli game
Photo: APA (epa)

Security concerns relocate Israeli game

A soccer match to be played in Austria on Saturday by Maccabi Haifa and German club SC Paderborn had to be moved to a new venue due to security concerns after a violent anti-Israel protest disrupted the Israeli team's last game in Bischofshofen in Salzburg province. READ  

A carnivore explores vegan Vienna
All Photos: Gareth Smith

A carnivore explores vegan Vienna

Confirmed carnivore and The Local's resident food writer Gaz Smith decides to cross to the dark side, and explores some of Vienna's vegan restaurants. He was pleasantly surprised by what he found. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
'I came for a boy and stayed for the lifestyle'
Society
The Local's carnivore goes vegan
Gallery
The pop-up forest restaurant in Austria's most beautiful locations
Tech
Could robots end up doing more than half of the jobs in Austria?
Travel
Plans unveiled for bike trail along former Iron Curtain
International
Search on for Austrian WWI memorabilia
Politics
The former finance minister embroiled in a corruption scandal
Society
The best part of living abroad: 'Breaking down barriers'
Gallery
Vienna's Ukrainian community gathers to mourn crash victims
Culture
An American falls in love with Vienna's gelateria
National
The Ukrainians who protest every month outside the OSCE head office
Travel & Tourism
Where is the world's best wine list?
Travel & Tourism
Treat yourself to an Austrian spa experience
Travel & Tourism
Austrians love to get nude on the beach
Gallery
The week in pictures: July 6th - 12th
International
Pez sends supply of sweets to Norwegian boy with autism
Society
Is the free tabloid press killing quality journalism?
National
Austrian of the Week: Lena Hoschek
National
What Google Trends reveals about Austria
Society
Puppies in peril
National
Lipizzaner horses roam Vienna's Burggarten
Society
Austrian of the Week: Heinz Fischer
Society
Private detective snoops on 'begging mafia'
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

249
jobs available