Customs Services of Tajikistan and Turkmenistan study best international practices under the UNODC – WCO Global Container Control Programme

On 24-28 October 2022, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Regional Office for Central Asia (UNODC ROCA) jointly with the National Customs Agency of the Republic of Bulgaria organized a working study visit of the Customs Services of Tajikistan and Turkmenistan to the Republic of Bulgaria under the UNODC – WCO Global Container Control Programme (CCP). Eight representatives of the Customs Service under the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan and the State Customs Service of Turkmenistan, , including the members of the Port Control Units (PCU) attended the event.

The purpose of the visit was to learn the best practices of the Republic of the Bulgaria in the field of container/freight control, to hold consultations between the management of the Customs authorities of Turkmenistan, Bulgaria, and Tajikistan, and to strengthen international practical cooperation, including information exchange on high-risk consignments.

The visit focused upon the traditional enforcement control techniques, to combat trafficking of drugs, people, alcohol, and tobacco, to protect society from terrorism and other forms of transnational criminal activities. The visit to the National Customs Agency of the Republic of Bulgaria, gave an opportunity to participants to meet the Director of Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate, Heads of the Units, as well as the Head of Customs Mobile Teams Unit.

During these meetings, it has been noted that Bulgaria was the first European Union country located on the so-called Balkan Route of heroin trafficking to Europe and a front gate of European Union to Asia. Recently, it has also become a transit country for Near and Middle East migrants who aim to reach Western Europe. 

In line with the event agenda, visits to ‘Kapitan Andreevo’/’Kapikule’  border crossing point on Bulgarian-Turkish border (the busiest border crossing point in Europe), and to the Central Laboratory of the Bulgarian Customs were organized. A variety of classroom presentations, observation of live real time operational work, previous case study operational examples, case work on evidence gathering and practical demonstrations were held there. As a result of discussions, the parties came to a common understanding that in recent years, countries of Central Asia, Black Sea, and Balkan regions have achieved a significant increase in inter-regional cooperation and collaboration, including a smooth development of trade and transit corridors.

However, it has been also agreed that as inter-regional integration increases, relevant border management and collaboration must increase as well to address growing drug, small firearms trafficking threats, including linkages with other forms of transnational organized crime and terrorism.

The participants expressed their appreciation to UNODC-WCO CCP for arranging this productive study visit, as well as for being a reliable interlocutor for the countries in their efforts to build and enhance mutual relations and practical cooperation.

The CCP Regional Segments for Southern Caucasus and Central Asia are funded  by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), and the Export Control and Related Border Security Program.

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