Thursday, April 19, 2012 -
Senior security officials from the five Central Asian states held talks in Vienna on Tuesday with their European counterparts on finding ways to stem the flow of drugs from Afghanistan.
The interior ministers of Afghanistan, Russia, and the United States also participated in the meeting that agreed to enhance border management cooperation at both strategic and technical levels.
"Developing effective border controls and countering drugs trafficked from Afghanistan is one of the key challenges for the countries of Central Asia," UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) executive director Yury Fedotov told the gathering in Austria’s capital city, the United Press International (UPI) news agency reported.
The porous and largely undelineated mountainous border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan provides virtually detection-free access to drugs smugglers who transport thousands of pounds of Afghan heroin into Central Asia with the aim of exporting the drug into Russia and Europe.
Geoffrey Pyatt, principal deputy assistant U.S. Secretary of State for South and Central Asian affairs, told the delegates that "corruption, red tape, and security concerns on both sides of the [Afghanistan-Tajikistan] border" is a major problem for the region.
Pyatt said the vision for a new trade and economic Silk Road connecting Central Asia with Afghanistan and beyond is only possible with real domestic reform, anti-corruption efforts, and predictable business and regulatory environments within the countries of Central Asia.