5 March 2015
[….vp David Firestine introduces Ambassador Tanin]
– Thank you David for your generous introduction, and thank you to East West Institute for organizing this important event. I would like to welcome the distinguished diplomats, experts and colleagues here today to discuss an issue of profound importance to my country.
– The persistence of Narco-trafficking 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, terrorism, and corruption. The narcotics trade has major consequences for the social, political, economic and security arenas in the country as well as corruption, livelihood and health. Criminal networks fueled by narcotics and illicit sources of income have entered into strategic alliances that seek to produce instability and state weakness within which they can thrive and spread.
– The societal impact of drugs in Afghanistan is profound and painfully negative. Drug dependency, particularly among the most vulnerable populations in Afghanistan, remains 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 the Post-2014 Scenarios report points out, that 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.
– In this light, 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 trafficking of narcotics from Afghanistan.
– These discussions come at a most timely moment- my government, under the leadership of the newly elected President Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, has prioritized this issue as a central part 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. 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, government will complement enforcement with programs that provide licit alternatives for rural livelihoods.
– It is essential that we tackle the pernicious menace of narco-trafficking in Afghanistan in order for the county to achieve lasting stability, peace and development. In addition, noting that Afghan security is essential to regional and global stability I would like to say that all our cooperation on this is crucial to 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.