Regional cooperation key in countering drug routes in Central Asia
Vienna: UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov yesterday met with the President and several key leaders in Kazakhstan to discuss the country’s and region’s ongoing efforts in curbing drug use, illicit trafficking, and organized and financial crime. Kazakhstan – as with several Central Asian countries – is situated on an important route of Afghan heroin towards the key markets in Europe and has a key role to play in the fight against drugs.
UNODC Executive Director met with the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and praised the active role of the country at the international arena. The meeting coincides with the 10th anniversary Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) presently Chaired by Kazakhstan, and Executive Director thanked Kazakhstan for the excellent organization of the Summit. Yury Fedotov also met with lead officials, including Prime Minister Karim Massimov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Yerzhan Kazykhanov, the Minister of the Interior Kalmuhanbet Kasymov and the Chairman of the Agency on Combating Economic and Corruption Crimes Kairat Kozhamzharov.
Mr. Fedotov’s discussions covered a wide range of topics surrounding UNODC’s cooperation with Kazakh authorities, including illicit drug trafficking, corruption, anti-money laundering and others. He commended Kazakhstan’s commitment towards its anti-drug response, in particular the efforts behind the current 2009-2011 national drug control programme which was boosted through the Government’s US$ 270 million allocation. Nationally, UNODC is currently working with authorities to strengthen Kazakhstan’s counter-narcotics identification expertise along the country’s main transportation routes, while additionally working with selected schools on a pilot-basis to address drug use amongst students.
On a regional-level Mr. Fedotov spoke of the importance of Central Asia’s role in the fight against transnational heroin trafficking: “The Central Asian states are presented with a geographical challenge in the international drug fight. Countries such as Kazakhstan are on the frontline of the flow of Afghan heroin headed towards the West. The work in countering organized crime and drug trafficking, which I am pleased to see is increasingly taking on a cooperative approach, is so critical to international safety and security.”
In this context, Mr. Fedotov referred to the work of the Almaty-based Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre (CARICC) which was established with the support of UNODC to improve cooperation in counter-narcotics between national and regional law enforcement agencies of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan along with Russia and Azerbaijan. Since the Centre officially opened in December 2009 more than 20 trafficking channels have been disrupted, with seizures of more than 250 kg of heroin and over 115 kg of opium. Recently, Afghanistan and Pakistan received observer status at CARICC. Together with the Islamic Republic of Iran, these three countries constitute the UNODC-supported Triangular Initiative and this latest move towards a coordinated inter-regional responses to drug trafficking is welcomed.
Elaborating on UNODC’s work in Central Asia, Mr. Fedotov noted that efforts are being made to move towards a more integrated, regional approach in order to leverage strategic and inter-linked responses to the issue of drugs and crime.
Lastly Mr. Fedotov spoke on the regional partnership which will be further enhanced through the Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries covering Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. UNODC facilitates greater strategic cohesion and better planning of the cooperation among all actors in the region in order to provide a more effective barrier to the flow of drugs from Afghanistan.
For more information, contact:
Rizwana Asad (Ms.)
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
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