Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2007-10-24-Speech-3-480"

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"Madam President, I think it was a very interesting discussion. Again, I appreciate Mr Cappato’s courageous idea. But, again, let me also argue and say: yes, it is true that our strategy has not yet been successful. But, as I said before, it is not only a strategy with regard to drugs; it is a hugely complex situation. We are in a post-conflict situation and, of course, all the different elements are there: NATO, the European Union and the UN. We had these meetings in New York exactly on this matter. Now let me come back to the drugs question. There are indeed problems on the demand and on the supply side. On the demand side, there is, at this moment, no demand for additional licit opium for medical purposes according to the International Narcotics Control Board. And I hear that world demand is indeed fully met now, and Turkey and India had to cut their production in 2005 and 2006. The stockpiles were so high that they would last worldwide for two years. That is one point. I understand your saying that maybe people in other parts of the world do not even have the possibility of having medical treatment without pain relief. I understand that. But this is something that you are taking out of context. These are the realities today. On the supply side, let us also look a little at the proportions. Afghanistan is, as some colleagues have said, the country that produces the highest share of opium and drugs: 8 200 tonnes. If it were even allowed to produce legally, there would only be a possibility for a small amount and that would only be very small. So, even if there were a possibility, I think that would represent only five tonnes of opium production. Now, comparing 8 200 tonnes to five tonnes: this is nothing! So you see, neither on the supply side nor on the demand side is there a real balance. Therefore, apart from this very complex situation, I think your idea is courageous; I agree. But I think that, for Afghanistan, it is maybe not useful at this stage. On the contrary, I think what we have to do as a strategy is to have a combination of sustaining Afghanistan’s long-term development and offering farmers alternatives to poppy cultivation, combined with improved governance. So the focus will be on justice and police, as we will try to do and as we have started doing. We have also been at the forefront on the rural livelihood agenda and helping to support legitimate employment. To this end, the European Commission is also supporting the Afghan Government’s National Drug Control Strategy through supply-control and demand-reduction initiatives and the improvement of governance. For instance, we have been supporting the Law and Order Trust Fund, up to now with some EUR 135 million, while a sum of EUR 70 million is planned for the next two years. But I must also say, since we have been concentrating on rural development, on health care and on justice, and also helping on the police and justice reform, plus alternative production, as the European Union and European Commission, we cannot do everything alone in Afghanistan. This I would like to say to the honourable Member Mr Tannock, because I think he is addressing only us, the European Commission and European Union, but there are many other important actors there. I think we all have to get our act together. This is what we are trying to do more and more through a very coordinated strategy, which, on the one hand, is going to combat drugs. But, again, I think that, maybe, it is too early."@en1

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