14 March 2003

South-Eastern European States Meet to Coordinate Counter-Narcotics Activities

VIENNA, 14 March (UNIS) - Yesterday the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) hosted the 2nd Steering Committee Meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria, for its ongoing regional project, "Strengthening of Capacities for the Collection and Analysis of Criminal Intelligence in South-Eastern Europe."

The Heads of Criminal Police Departments and criminal intelligence experts from seven nearby countries attended the meeting: namely Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, and Slovenia. UNODC representatives from its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, as well as from UNODC's Regional Field Operations Unit, chaired the meeting, which also involved the participation of members from the current Greek EU Presidency and Mini Dublin Group.

The $2.2 million project that is funded by the British Government and the Principality of Liechtenstein was launched in October 2001. It is to assist Ministries of the Interior in the region to utilise modern intelligence-based policing methods to efficiently and effectively target key criminal organisations in order to disrupt their operations.

The latest Opium Poppy Survey, published by UNODC in October 2002, indicates a high level of opium cultivation in Afghanistan, which might result in increased trafficking of heroin in the Balkan Region. UNODC is running a range of activities in Afghanistan and Central Asia aimed at strengthening the capacity of countries in the region to monitor and interdict drug trafficking. South-Eastern Europe by virtue of its geographical position remains pivotal to UNODC's strategy.

UNODC believes the success of its activities in South-Eastern Europe lies in timely identification and targeted development of projects in key areas of both supply and demand reduction. Coupled with effective field-based implementation, coordination and partnerships with donors, UNODC stands ready to spearhead technical assistance to support the fight against drugs and organised crime in the Balkans.

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