Remarks at the briefing to Member States on the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I welcome this opportunity to brief you on UNODC's Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe-2012 to 2015, which I launched in May last year.
The Regional Programme was created at the request of the Governments in the region.
Its goal is to counter illicit drug trafficking across the Balkans as well as confront transnational organized crime, corruption, money laundering and drug abuse.
At the programme's core is the need to deal with the heroin that flows out of Afghanistan and along the southern corridor towards the European markets.
This illicit flow creates corruption, other forms of crime, drug abuse and the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Around 60 tons of heroin, worth US$13 billion in West and Central Europe, is moved along the Balkans route.
Although the amount appears to be decreasing in recent years, it remains the main illicit trafficking route connecting Afghanistan to Europe.
The proceeds from illicit drugs can have a destabilizing effect on the economic and social development in this region and beyond it.
In South-Eastern Europe, there is a risk these threats could hinder countries on the path towards EU accession.
During the intervening months since it was launched, the Regional Programme has achieved much with very little.
The Programme has:
- Launched the Container Control Programme in the Balkans (Albania and Montenegro) and established a Container Control Unit in the Albanian Port of Durres;
- Conducted in-depth surveys on corruption, as experienced by the general population and the business sector;
- Drafted a new national Drug Strategy and a new Action Plan for Counter-Terrorism Strategy in Montenegro;
- Worked with 317 families from Albania, FYROM and Montenegro in the Prevention of Drug Abuse Programme which helps to strengthen families; and
- Trained 547 drug abuse treatment and care experts from the region.
And the list does not end here.
The Regional Programme has achieved an implementation rate of over 99 per cent in 2012.
I would like to thank the donors: Germany, Italy, France, Turkey, Belgium, EU, as well as Romania and Russia , who have offered in-kind contributions.
We have done much, but it is not enough, and we have raised considerable expectations in the region, and elsewhere.
I would, therefore, encourage you to remain engaged in the region. I would also like to encourage other donors to come forward.
There are excellent reasons for your continued support.
UNODC's networking, fostering of local ownership, and partnership building in the region, creates added value when combined with the delivery of solutions.
In addition, we must all work to counter the threat of opiates from Afghanistan.
As 2014 and the withdrawal of international forces draws close, we must place ourselves in the strongest possible position to assist and support Afghanistan.
This means working at the country level, at the regional level, and in an integrated manner, across the main routes of drug trafficking.
Such an approach includes South Eastern Europe.
The governments of those countries participating in this process view the Regional Programme as an excellent tool that complements the work of the EU and the OSCE, among others.
Considerable efforts have been made by UNODC to ensure the closest possible coordination with these valuable partners, both on the ground and at our headquarters.
UNODC is an organization that goes beyond national, regional, hemispheric borders.
We deliver our activities based on an integrated response between our different regional and thematic programmes.
The Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe is a key element in that approach.
It offers countries in the Balkans the opportunity to work with partners worldwide.
At present, most of the Programme's funding will end in mid-2013. The Regional Programme has a notional budget of just over US$14 million of which US$2.7 million has been raised. Of this figure, US$1.7 million has been spent leaving US$1 million available for 2013.
Therefore, to succeed, the Regional Programme needs urgent funding and the support of countries in the region. Without this, we will be unable to offer tangible results.
Indeed, after mid-2013, a date which is now close, a review of UNODC's presence in the region will be conducted.
Participating Governments have agreed to approach key donors and advocate for the support of the Regional Programme.
It is also hoped that participating countries can soon provide some concrete contributions to support the implementation of the Regional Programme, especially in financial terms.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The drug and crime problems of the Balkans are not in the past, they are here acting on the present.
Our joint work is to confront these issues now, and in doing so, to help guard the region's future.
A future within the European Union where the countries of the Balkans are the strong partners of the organization's existing members.
I call on all Member States present today to help UNODC turn this vision into a reality.