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Afghanistan Joins OSCE in Fight Against Drug Smuggling - 2003-05-18

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is to begin working with Afghanistan in the fight against drug smuggling.

As the world's largest regional security organization, the OSCE considers illegal trafficking in drugs, human beings, and weapons a prime cause of human misery, the devastation of national economies, and the rise of criminal networks. It says smuggling has a long-term impact on security and political stability. The OSCE also includes Central Asian states and the Caucasus, which are particularly affected by drug trafficking as countries of origin or transit.

Last month, Afghanistan, the world's main producer of heroin poppies, became a new partner in cooperation with the OSCE. Afghanistan shares a long border with three OSCE countries, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. OSCE Deputy Coordinator of Economic and Environmental Activities Marc Baltes says Afghanistan is working with the OSCE to tackle the flow of drugs.

"Most of the drugs, in the OSCE world at least, that are stemming from poppies come from Afghanistan through Central Asia, through the Caucasus to Europe and the United States," said Mr. Baltes. "So, that is something where we have to address alternative ways of life for the producers, looking to how we can strengthen the governmental structures, in order to address this in the production countries and then of course you go to very deep problems in societies in the west, where we have the use of drugs."

Mr. Baltes said the OSCE can work through its field missions to help build a civil society and tackle the roots of trafficking.