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CSTO to prevent threats from Afghanistan, strengthen Tajik-Afghan border

September 23, 2013, 19:35 UTC+3

This will be one of the priorities of Russia’s current presidency in the Organisation, Putin said

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SOCHI, September 23 (Itar-Tass) - The Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) will act to prevent threats from Afghanistan and strengthen the Tajik-Afghan border, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

This will be one of the priorities of Russia’s current presidency in the Organisation, Putin said at the CSTO summit in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi on Monday, September 23.

He also stressed the need to improve mechanisms for minimising risks for the CSTO member states. “The biggest of them comes from problems relating to Afghanistan,” he said.

“We will work proactively. At any rate, we will try to do so and jointly help Tajikistan build the infrastructure on the Tajik-Afghan border,” Putin said.

The CSTO leaders voiced concern about a possible increase in the supply of narcotics and the spread of extremism from Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the international coalition forces from that country in 2014.

“Unfortunately, there are reasons to think that the intensity of Afghan drug trafficking and the activity of terrorist groups will grow considerably,” Putin said.

He noted that extremists were already trying to spread their operations to neighbouring countries, including the CSTO’s Asian member states.

Putin noted that no matter how the situation evolves in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the coalition troops, the CSTO countries should not be caught off guard and should take effort to prevent threats, including by strengthening the Tajik-Afghan border.

Tajik law enforcement agencies and border guards seized over 3.7 tonnes of narcotics in the first half of this year. One in two kilograms of seized drugs was hashish and marijuana.

According to UNODC, Afghanistan accounts for more than 70 percent of narcotic drugs made in the world.

UNODC Head Yuri Fedotov said earlier that “the flow of drugs from Afghanistan poses a serious threat to security and development throughout Central Asia and beyond, and Tajikistan is the first line of defence. We appreciate the difficulties Tajikistan faces in carrying out this dangerous and daunting task.”

Afghanistan supplies 90 percent of the world’s opium, most of which goes through Iran and Pakistan. The three countries have been involved in the UNODC-sponsored Triangular Initiative to coordinate their efforts to combat trafficking since 2007. “Now is the time for a more result-oriented response to the challenge of drugs, which is based on concrete actions and shared responsibilities,” Fedotov said when visiting Kabul in 2011.

“The Triangular Initiative is an important illustration of how we should promote shared responsibilities at local, regional and international levels. Shared responsibilities mean that the international community without any exception must be united against drugs and crime,” he added.

The ministerial declaration signed by Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan strengthens joint planning, enhances their analytical and operational capabilities and coordinates joint operations. The three countries have coordinated 12 joint drug control operations that led to the seizures of several tons of illicit drugs and the arrests of key drug dealers and traffickers.

“But much more needs to be done,” Fedotov said. “The joint planning cell must be the engine of the Triangular Initiative. Joint patrols should become routine, not exceptional events.”

Drugs pose a threat to the health and security of not only Afghanistan, but Iran and Pakistan as well, and many other countries, including Russia and the European Union.

Afghan heroin has literally flooded Russia and the European Union. Ninety percent of all drug addicts in Russia - about 660,000 people according to official information and 2-5 million according to unofficial estimates - are addicted to Afghan heroin and opium. Afghanistan makes so many opiates in just one year that it can kill 10 million drug users. Moreover, Afghanistan has turned into the sole producer of almost all of the world’s heroin before the eyes of the 140,000-strong military armada from nearly 50 countries which ventured to help that country cope with terrorism and build democracy.

According to Russian Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN) chief Viktor Ivanov, Afghan drug producers have committed about 1 trillion U.S. dollars to this end over the last decade.

Ivanov said that opium production had increased 40 times, and the latest assessments of the effectiveness of anti-drug efforts in Afghanistan only “mislead” the world public.

Heroin production in Afghanistan has increased 40 times over the past ten years. More than 90 percent of all heroin is made in Afghanistan. The Helmand province alone makes more than 60 percent of it, he said.

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