Welcome Address: Roundtable on Afghan Narco-trafficking H.E. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN East West Institute – New York

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5 March 2015

–         Thank you Vice President David Firestein for your generous introduction, and thank you to East West Institute for organizing this important event and for providing a forum for cooperation on issues of common interest. I would like to welcome the distinguished diplomats, experts and colleagues here today to discuss an issue of profound importance to my country. I am pleased to see my Afghan colleagues who have travelled from far away to be here today.

–         The narcotics threat in Afghanistan is a result of decades of conflict, war and violence. It has both fueled and been fueled by the interrelated problems of crime, insecurity, terrorism, and corruption. Indeed, the Taliban tap into the narco-trafficking supply chain at each stage of the narcotics trade, with major consequences for the social, political, economic and security arenas in the country. It is a problem that seriously threatens Afghanistan’s stability and weakens the Afghan state.

–         The societal impact of drugs in Afghanistan is profound and painful. Drug dependency, particularly among the most vulnerable populations in Afghanistan, has become a major challenge for us and has increasingly threatened the health and stability of our society and drained communities of economic and human resources.

–         At the same time it is crucial to note, as East West Institute’s Post-2014 Scenarios report points out, drug control is ultimately a global issue; drug production in Afghanistan would not continue without the persistent problems of trafficking and consumption.

The only way to truly address these issues is through genuine, comprehensive global and regional strategies to implement both drug-demand and drug-supply reduction measures.

–         The Joint US-Russia Working Group on Afghan Narco-trafficking is an important platform for the international community in general and the US, Russia, Afghanistan and countries in the region in particular to combat the narcotics and narco-trafficking threats in a comprehensive manner.

–         These discussions come at a most timely moment- my government, under the leadership of President Dr. Ashraf Ghani, has prioritized this issue as a crosscutting element of its reform agenda. The government has pledged to intensify efforts to control narcotic production and sale by adopting a broad approach targeting both the production base as well as the handling and refining of narcotics. As the President has noted, strict effective counter-narcotics measures will increase the costs of operating in the sector, with a particular focus on poppy-eradication and financial tracking.

In addition, the government will complement enforcement with programs that provide licit alternatives for rural livelihoods.

–         It is essential that we tackle the pernicious menace of narcotics and narco-trafficking in Afghanistan and the region in order for the county to achieve lasting stability, peace and development.  Moreover, noting that Afghan security is essential to regional and global stability, I would like to say that all our genuine cooperation on this issue, as well as our commitment to work constructively together to find solutions rather than point fingers, will contribute not only to a more stable country, but also a more peaceful and prosperous world.

–         Thank you very much for being here and again to East West Institute for leading this initiative. I would like to give the floor back to David. Thank you very much.

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