Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2007-10-24-Speech-3-463"

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". Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, in this report we propose that Parliament should take the initiative and make a proposal to the Council, primarily in the context of the common foreign and security policy, on the issue of opium production in Afghanistan. Our starting point is the realisation that the results achieved to date are inadequate. There has been a 50% increase in the production of opium used to produce heroin over the past two years. It seems that we are unable to find an effective means of reducing this enormous production mountain, all of which then goes to enrich not the growers, the farmers, of course, but the large international drug mafias, the terrorists and the Taliban. The report also starts from another premise: that at the same time there is in fact a very severe lack of access to painkillers. Some 80% of the world’s population has no access at all to painkillers. Of course, the two issues could be regarded as completely separate, but I believe it is the job of political institutions to be pragmatic and hence to understand that, faced with this enormous volume of production used for heroin – whilst a product from the same agricultural origin is in very short supply – it ought to be possible, as it were, to combine the two points of departure. The amendments put forward in the Committee on Foreign Affairs and by Mrs Gomes on behalf of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament, as well as those tabled by the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats in plenary, have helped to ensure that the proposal on the table today is not an alternative one, that is, a negative proposal calling for the policy pursued hitherto to be replaced overnight. What we are asking of you, of the Council and of the Commission, is to conduct an experiment, to run some pilot projects converting part of the crop currently used to produce heroin to produce painkillers instead. On the demand side too, policies could be launched to try and take painkillers to continents such as Africa and Asia which are practically bereft of any such medicines. That is why the report, as it emerged from the Committee on Foreign Affairs and taking into account the proposed amendments, seems to me fundamentally well-balanced. It proceeds from a very simple assumption, namely that it is probably – I believe definitely – easier to cooperate with farmers if we propose converting part of their output to legal ends, rather than simply coming along with a policy of eradicating, fumigating and destroying plantations. That response in fact creates yet another reason for conflict with local populations and has proved counterproductive and unhelpful, at least until now. I therefore hope that, beyond the understandable official line taken by Europe’s governments and the Afghan Government, asserting the need to fight opium production, beyond that official line we might send out another message, and the European Parliament is perhaps freer than others to make such a proposal. We have already assumed this responsibility and I hope we will reassert it tomorrow at the vote. We are freer than others to propose that alternative experiments be carried out and assessed pragmatically, not ideologically. Every one of us here has his or her own ideas about international politics and drugs, and about international policies in Afghanistan. This report is not intended as an ideological proposal, but as a practical attempt to help find a solution for what really is a global tragedy."@en1

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