Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2007-10-24-Speech-3-464"

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"Madam President, I too would like to say thank you very much to Mr Cappato ! In some parts of the country, there is simply no governance, let alone good governance, at the moment. This applies notably to the unstable southern provinces, where the bulk of opium is produced. Finally, the Afghan Government itself has firmly ruled out – and this is an important argument – any licit production of opium. Against this backdrop, the political message in this report does not really send the right signal to our Afghan partners. It might even backfire. The hard and undeniable truth is that reconstruction in Afghanistan will need much more time and resources. It will also require stamina, if we want to bring lasting development to this war-torn country. Progress in state building is only possible with more resolve, including from Afghanistan’s political leadership, notably at the local level. That was, by the way, the message we gave in New York. I agree it is high time to visibly tackle corruption. We have not only said this, but are also trying to help in this by building up a good judicial system and having a police force that really works, in order to convince ordinary Afghans who often remain sceptical. There is a clear way ahead. It is through Afghanistan’s national drug control strategy, which has been endorsed by the international community and contains all the elements needed. This really deserves our unequivocal support, being a comprehensive strategy that includes interdiction, public information, prosecution of known drug dealers and the promotion of local development. Where such a careful policy mix has been used, farmers have already abandoned poppy cultivation, sustainably. In that context, the Commission considers that a proposal to legalise the opium poppy might simply undermine the work it is currently doing in other sectors, notably concerning the rule of law and policing. I welcome this very timely debate on the drug problem – and particularly on Afghanistan’s drug problem – which, as we know, is a major complex issue in the political and security context. We recently had a lot of discussions in New York. There were a number of very important discussions during the UN General Assembly with President Karzai, with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and with a host of countries. These focused exactly on this whole complex question. Tonight’s discussion contributes to the wider debate on Afghanistan’s reconstruction, but also on the role of drugs. Let me also commend you for setting up the EP Delegation for relations with Afghanistan. We are taking a keen interest in your work and consider it very important that you have done this. Afghanistan’s drug industry does indeed pose an enormous challenge to progress in state building. The latest United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report makes for troubling reading. Both poppy cultivation and processing capacity have, unfortunately, increased significantly. Afghanistan’s southern provinces are most affected, with 70% of all the production. The strong link between the insurgency and the drug economy hardly comes as a surprise. However, we must not overlook the positive developments, especially in the more stable parts of the country, where there have been real improvements in health and education, as well as economic growth. Thirteen provinces in northern and central Afghanistan are indeed poppy free. That, at least, is very promising, and something on which we can build. The Cappato report gives a complete picture of this situation – and I should thank you for your encouraging remarks on what the Commission is doing – and it also points, quite rightly, to Afghanistan’s responsibility for tackling the opium industry. On that we are in absolute agreement. Yet I must say that I cannot share – at least not yet – the conclusions reached in the report, which proposes to legalise the opium poppy for medical purposes, albeit on a trial basis. At first sight that may be an appealing proposition, but unfortunately there are no simple answers to Afghanistan’s complex drug problem. Let me share with you some of my concerns. Countries like Australia, Turkey and India, which are already producing raw opium for medical purposes, usually have effective law enforcement and also an absence of widespread conflict. Even then, implementation is very difficult. Where such conditions are not being met, opium cultivated legally is promptly diverted, as we have seen in Peru and Bolivia. Obviously, in the case of Afghanistan, licit cultivation would, we fear, simply add to illicit cultivation instead of replacing it. Also, the legal production of opium remains unappealing to local farmers as their revenues would only be around 25-30% of what they can now obtain on the black market. The implementation of such a scheme is complex, and only feasible with subsidies for quality monitoring and the distribution of medical products. Should we support this with taxpayers’ money? The Afghan Government, which is notoriously weak and has weak institutions, unfortunately does not at the moment have – and that is why I said ‘not yet’ – the capacity to oversee such a scheme."@en1
"tante grazie"1

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