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The Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has extended the mandate of the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) by another year.

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The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Slovakia, Miroslav Lajčák, recalled that the SMM was mandated to establish and report facts in response to specific incidents and to report incidents, including those concerning alleged violations of fundamental OSCE principles and commitments, throughout Ukraine, the OSCE press service said on March 30.

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The official also thanked the SMM observers for their work.

"I want to express my sincere gratitude to the women and men of the Mission, who – for five years now – have been working every day, under challenging circumstances, to carry out their crucial tasks as the principal and largest international monitoring presence on the ground. They deserve our gratitude and our support," Mr. Lajčák said. "The monitors are the eyes and ears of the organization – and indeed, of the international community – and they directly contribute to the prevention of further escalation," he added.

UNIAN memo. The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine was established on March 21, 2014. The SMM observers work without weapons. OSCE monitors report based of their own observations and established facts.

In particular, observers collect information and report on the security situation, inform about the humanitarian situation and the needs of people in the area and assist other organizations in delivering aid. They also facilitate dialogue among all parties to the crisis and contributed to the maintenance of a ceasefire.

The SMM mandate expires on March 31, 2019. So, the government of Ukraine asked the OSCE Permanent Council to extend it for another 12 months.