3 September 2003

UN, Turkey to Increase Cooperation against Drugs and Organized Crime

VIENNA, 3 SEPTEMBER (UN Information Service) -- In his first visit to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime  (UNODC) in Vienna, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Mr. Abdullah Gül, reiterating his country's long-standing call, stressed the need for continuing international cooperation against the trafficking of opiates -- affecting his country and neighbouring states -- and in combating other forms of organized crime, terrorism, human trafficking and corruption.

"Turkey's long standing cooperation with the UN drug programme is commendable.  From being a recipient country [of international counter-narcotic assistance] in the eighties, Turkey is increasingly putting its resources and expertise towards international counter-narcotic efforts," UNODC Executive Director, Mr. Antonio Maria Costa, said.

The two sides agreed to strengthen their partnership by developing a range of technical activities to prevent drug abuse in the country, strengthening Turkey's national drug control capacities and expertise, increasing cooperation against organized crime and terrorism, and promoting law enforcement training of government officials from Turkey and other governments in the region. The Turkish International Academy against Drugs and Organized Crime (TADOC), created with UNODC support, has become a success story in international cooperation against drugs: It has become a recognized regional center for training of counter-narcotic officials from Central Asian states and Afghanistan and could turn into a training resource and expertise center for the entire region affected by Afghan drug trafficking.

Turkey cultivates opium for licit, medical purposes and has no record of diversion into illicit channels. Its geographic position places the country at the intersection of trafficking routes, with opiates smuggled across the country, from east to west, and synthetic drugs and precursors in the opposite direction. Turkey emphasized the need to further cooperate in strengthening the drug control and crime prevention capacities in the region, particularly along the trafficking routes between Asia and Europe.

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