VIENNA, February 16 (Itar-Tass) — Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will take part in the Third Conference of the Paris Pact to curb the spread of Afghan opiates.
On the eve of the meeting the minister again presented the Russian side’s view on this issue. “There are lots of very different ideas, but nobody wants to deal with the essence of the problem, namely, drug production in Afghanistan,” he stressed.
“We have been talking about this for several years,” Lavrov added. “And we are told that we cannot now hurt Afghan farmers, they need something to feed on, so let's let them produce this themselves, and we will intercept from the outside.” Special centres are being created to this end, by the United States, in particular.
“We ask: would it not be easier to use the same means to eliminate the crops, laboratories,” Lavrov continued. “Let’s call a conference, raise funds to help the Afghan poor farmers to grow alternative crops. Let’s give guarantees to buy these products, albeit with a loss, so that they do not lose their income.”
The minister recalled that Russia has already for six years been proposing to combine the efforts of NATO and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) on drug interception. However, NATO wants to divide the CSTO space and address this issue in the bilateral formats. “This approach is counterproductive in terms of real, common for us tasks to fight against a common threat,” Lavrov said.
Touching upon the issue of fighting the precursors, the Russian foreign minister said that 90 percent of them come from Europe, from chemical enterprises. “We have been struggling for several years already for marking these precursors so that we could understand who supplies them to Afghanistan and when they were intercepted,” said the minister, adding that only now the parameters of an agreement on this subject are shaping up. “I hope that we will fix it in Vienna,” Lavrov said.
“However, all this is symptoms,” the minister concluded. “And the root of the problem is the production, which, by the way, has increased by 60 percent over the year.”