BONN, December 5 (Itar-Tass) — Russia believes that the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) is a natural platform for coordinating the region’s contribution to international efforts on Afghanistan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at the Bonn conference on Afghanistan on Monday.
“We believe that the SCO [Afghanistan and its neighbours are involved in the work of the organisation] is a natural platform for coordinating the region’s contribution to international efforts on Afghanistan,” Lavrov stressed.
“The Istanbul Conference showed that the world realised the role of Afghanistan’s neighbours in the social and economic restoration of the country,” the Russian minister said.
He said Russia hopes that all parties involved will take part in the upcoming conference on combating Afghan drug trafficking due to be held in Vienna on February 16.
“We hope that all participants in the conference will be involved in the 3rd Conference on Combating Afghan Drug Trafficking within the Paris Pact [the meeting will be held in Vienna on February 16],” Lavrov said.
“The drug threat takes hundreds of thousands of lives of Afghans, Russians and citizens of other countries,” the Russian minister said. “It is necessary to fight all chain of drug trafficking,” he added.
The Paris Pact is an international partnership to combat traffic in and abuse of Afghan opiates. At the first Ministerial Conference on Drug Routes from Central Asia to Europe held in Paris in May 2003, more than 60 countries and international organizations agreed to join forces in order to limit the flow of opiates from Afghanistan to and through all countries along the smuggling routes.
At the 2nd Ministerial Conference on Drug Trafficking Routes from Afghanistan held in Moscow in June 2006 partners reiterated the need for enhanced and coordinated counter narcotics action to reduce opiates trafficking, consumption and related health problems in the region. UNODC is leading the follow-up to these Ministerial Conferences through the Paris Pact Initiative, a project that facilitates periodical consultations at the expert and policy level and also aims to strengthen data collection and analytical capacities in and around Afghanistan. This project also provides partners with the use of a secure, automated internet-based tool for the coordination of technical assistance in the field of counter narcotics.
The drug eradication programme has been run without adequate aid, aid workers, and Afghan government support to provide alternative income. In 2007, total effective eradication, including governor-led and AEF-led efforts, amounted to 19,047 hectares which is equal 10 percent of the total opium poppy cultivation. By 2008 was that many Afghans were dependent on growing opium, confronting the threat of eradication without adequate options. This has driven opium cultivation into Taliban-controlled areas in southern Afghanistan, effectively funding the insurgency. Corruption and violence continue to hinder the eradication process.
Several factors complicated the eradication process. First, corruption is believed to have hindered the eradication process with some eradication focal points using the opportunity to try to extract money from farmers in exchange for sparing their field. Equally challenging, some eradication focal points experienced violence directed towards themselves. In total, 16 security incidents resulting in 15 police fatalities and 31 injuries and 10 tractor burnings were reported during the 2007 eradication campaign. The security situation was particularly problematic in southern and western provinces.