Turkish OSCE observer released after intense diplomacy: Davutoğlu

Turkish OSCE observer released after intense diplomacy: Davutoğlu

DONETSK- Reuters
Turkish OSCE observer released after intense diplomacy: Davutoğlu

Members of OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine getout of a vehicle on arrival at the city of Donetsk. REUTERS Photo

Four Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) observers, including Turkish obsever Mehmet Kılıç, were released by the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine in an apparent goodwill gesture on June 27.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on June 27 that kidnapped Turkish observer Kılıç's release was obtained following intense diplomacy.

“I just talked to him over the phone. I gave the good news to Mrs. Zehra [Kılıç’s wife] who has waited [for Kılıç’s return] with patience through this process,” Davutoğlu said through his Twitter account June 27. Kılıç was kidnapped along with three other international observers in Ukraine by pro-Russian groups.

Davutoğlu said efforts are being exerted to take Kılıç back to Turkey. The minister appreciated the intense efforts of the chairman of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, Ambassador Ertuğrul Apakan of Turkey, for the release of the abducted OSCE observers. In addition to commenting on Kılıç’s return, Davutoğlu expressed his hopes that the 80 Turkish citizens kidnapped in Iraq will be released soon as well. “All of our institutions are continuing their work to receive good news from Iraq as well,” Davutoğlu said.

Pro-Russian separatists had detained eight observers from the Vienna-based organisation, a key security and rights body, tasked with monitoring an agreement drafted in Switzerland in April to de-escalate the crisis that has pitted the rebels against leaders in Kiev.

The four observers, part of the 100-strong mission, were brought by heavily armed rebels to a hotel in downtown Donetsk, where they were handed over to their colleagues. Another four remain in rebel captivity in the neighbouring Luhansk region.

"It was a long road and this release is the fruit of good will and it was unconditional," Alexander Borodai, prime minister of the self-styled Donetsk People's Republic, told reporters. "I am hoping we can facilitate the release of the four remaining observers."

Securing the release of the four OSCE hostages has been a part of peace consultations between mediators of the Kiev government, OSCE, Russia and rebel leaders.

The ceasefire between the rebels and the government, set to expire later on June 27, has already been marred by a number of violations, including the downing of a Ukrainian helicopter earlier this week with the loss of all nine people on board.

Mark Etherington, the senior OSCE mediator in southeastern Ukraine, said the mission was "profoundly grateful" to all who facilitated the release of the hostages.