The delegates include the heads of drug control agencies from more than 120 countries, as well as heads and representatives of international organisations, including the United Nations, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, and Collective Security Treaty Organisation.
During the conference, which takes place over three days, delegates will discuss regional and global drug trafficking trends, cooperation between different countries’ police forces, and coordinating work when carrying out joint operations.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ladies and gentlemen, friends,
It is a great pleasure to welcome you all to this anniversary 30th International Drug Enforcement Conference.
This is the first time that Russia is hosting such a high-level gathering of the heads of drug control agencies from more than 100 countries. You are all professionals whose job it is to protect our peoples and countries from one of today’s greatest threats.
The drugs trade has become a global challenge to the entire international community, and for some countries has become a national tragedy. The drugs trade is a breeding ground for organised crime, smuggling, and illegal migration. Even sadder and more dangerous, it is also a breeding ground for terrorism.
We therefore believe it essential to fight all types of drugs, and we are worried by the more ‘relaxed laws’ that some countries have passed, and that lead to legalisation of so-called ‘soft’ drugs. This is a very dangerous path!
It is extremely important to support and strengthen the current international legal framework in this area, which rests above all on the three basic UN conventions.
Russia supports the UN’s central coordinating role in combating drug trafficking. The United Nations has a tremendously important part to play, a part that only this universal organisation is capable of playing.
It is extremely important to reach the goals that were set by the Political Declaration and the Plan of Action to Counter the World Drug Problem, adopted at the 64th UN General Assembly, namely, to reduce production of the most dangerous drugs, including heroin and cocaine, around the world by 2019.
The situation in Afghanistan requires our particular attention. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, thousands of drugs production laboratories are operating there. In 2012 alone, the amount of land given over to drugs cultivation increased by 18 percent, from 131,000 hectares to 154,000 hectares.
Production and trafficking of opiates from Afghanistan is of direct concern and is a huge problem for Russia, but also for our neighbouring countries and for Europe, the USA and Canada.
Afghanistan clearly has insufficient resources of its own to fight the drugs threat. It already lacks the resources today, but what will be the situation tomorrow? Next year will see the withdrawal of the International Security Assistance Force. The consequences could be very sad, even tragic.
Russia is ready to take further practical steps to eradicate the drugs threat. Combating the drugs trade was one of the items on the agenda at an informal summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation last week. This organisation brings together Russia and the Central Asian countries. Yesterday, on the sidelines of the Russia-EU Summit, we signed an agreement on precursors of narcotics.
Let me say here to this audience that Russia has always been an advocate of closer cooperation between law enforcement agencies in combating the drugs threat. This concerns above all efforts to suppress international drug trafficking, exchange operational information, and train personnel.
Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service and our other specialised and law enforcement agencies make a substantial contribution to this work. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, they intercept up to 40 percent of the heroin entering Russia. I say this as if with pride, 40 percent, but there is still 60 percent getting through!
No matter where I go in Russia, no matter which region I visit, mothers always come to draw attention to the problems people face in their everyday lives, including the problems and tragedies linked to drugs use. In 2012, the Federal Drug Control Service prevented more than 11,000 attempts to deliver wholesale drugs supplies to Russia.
As part of our obligations under the international anti-drugs conventions, we are active in helping to develop the human resources capabilities of drugs control and police agencies in many countries, from Asia to Central America. Last year, more than 600 specialists from our partner countries received ongoing professional training in Russia.
Our common priorities include planning and carrying out joint anti-drugs operations. Russia has quite a lot of experience in this area. For example, through our cooperation with Kyrgyzstan over these last two years only, we have shut down 35 wholesale heroin supply channels.
The anti-drugs efforts and operations we carry out within the CSTO are also making a big difference. One good example of this cooperation was an operation under CSTO aegis last December, during which more than 1,500 crimes were brought to light and around 500 kilograms of narcotic substances and more than 750 kilograms of precursors were confiscated.
We support the idea of developing anti-drugs cooperation between the CSTO and NATO. I think this approach would seriously consolidate our forces and our responses to what are common, real, and not mythical, threats.
Another key area for action is to destroy the drugs trade’s financial base. This is something you all say too. The experts estimate that the trade in opiates alone, calculated using the final sales value method, is worth more than $60 billion.
In our cooperation through the Paris Pact and the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering, we should step up efforts to identify, arrest and confiscate money and assets obtained through illegal trade of narcotics and precursors.
Providing reciprocal legal assistance and expanding the exchange of information on suspicious bank accounts, deposits, investments and property would help to break down the drugs production infrastructure.
We also are to work more closely in the important area of preventing leaks and illegal trade of precursors. This work should continue together with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the UN International Narcotics Control Board, and the business community.
It is important to strengthen the public-private partnership in this area, and together with the International Narcotics Control Board continue the work to draw up the guidelines for a voluntary code of conduct for businesses engaged in producing special substances and components.
Friends, every country has to recognise its responsibility today for taking an uncompromising stand against the drugs threat and drugs expansion, and for effectively implementing international projects to control the use of narcotics, psychotropic substances and their precursors.
At the same time, we all know that security methods alone will not resolve the problem of illegal drugs use. In pursuing our set objectives, we must therefore work together more actively with civil society and business circles too.
Of course we also have to make broader use of the latest drug addiction treatment methods that various countries are using, and carry out educational, treatment, rehabilitation and social re-integration programmes for people with drug addictions, especially young people.
I am sure that this conference will help to make the law enforcement agencies’ fight against the drugs threat more effective and will develop international anti-drugs cooperation.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are very pleased that you have chosen Moscow as the venue for your conference. We thank you for your trust. I sincerely wish you success.
Thank you very much for your attention.