Plan to send another OSCE observer to Ukraine

Latvia plans to send an eighth civilian expert to take part in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, the Foreign Ministry said Monday.

On Tuesday, the Cabinet of Ministers will decide on the issue of sending a civilian expert, Pāvels Trifanovs, to take part in the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission.

"The OSCE has requested that the expert begin his work with the mission on 19 April. His mandate would run until 31 March 2016. If approved by the Government, this would bring the current number of Latvians serving as observers on the OSCE mission up to eight," the ministry said in a statement.

The decision to establish a special monitoring mission to Ukraine was made by the OSCE Permanent Council on 21 March 2014. The primary tasks of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine are to monitor the cease-fire, as well as to monitor and confirm the withdrawal of heavy weapons. It is also of critical important to monitor the Russian-Ukrainian border, with a special focus on the border areas under separatist control. 

This year, on 12 March, a decision was taken to extend the mandate of the mission until 31 March 2016. Along with the extension, the maximum number of OSCE observers was also increased from 500 to 1000 though currently there are only 414 international observers taking part in the mission.

The mission has been criticized in some quarters for its apparent inability to gaining access to the most sensitive and diputed areas of the conflict.

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