"Cooperation is always a two-way road"-

Mr. Aydin Aliyev, Lieutenant General, Chairman of the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan


The relationship between the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the UNODC Regional Office for Central Asia has a quite long history which spans for almost a decade. How would you evaluate our interaction in the field of countering drugs? Which issues, in your opinion, should be included into the agenda in the coming year?

Besides having a multifaceted nature, the cooperation with the UNODC Regional Office for Central Asia has a principal importance for the Customs Committee. I have always valued our collaboration very positively, and this due to many reasons.

As an important part of our cooperation, I would like to highlight the Container Control Program, which is jointly implemented by the World Customs Organization and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. In the framework of this Program, very important work is carried out starting from the provision of training and specialized equipment, to the allocation of office premises in Customs points as well as study tours. Sometime ago, UNODC handed over specialized equipment for the detection of precursors in the framework of the regional project on precursors control which was implemented in Azerbaijan and in the Central Asian region. Moreover, very productive cooperation is realized within another project on the standardization and sustainability in the handling and the presentation of data. In this regard, the training on data analysis and the ArcGIS geographic information system has been conducted for analysts from law enforcement agencies.

We are interested in broadening our cooperation with the UNODC Regional Office for Central Asia. Likewise, I think that more focus should be made on profiling high-risk consignments, canine service, and drug investigation techniques.

How would you evaluate the implementation of the UNODC/WCO Global Container Control Program in Azerbaijan?

First of all, I would like to underline the fact that the Government of Azerbaijan welcomed and supported the implementation of the Program as soon as it received the proposal due to its importance for our country.

Cooperation is always a two-way road. We always felt the support from the UNODC Regional Office for Central Asia. During the first phase of Program implementation, the Government of Azerbaijan has assigned the State Customs Committee to act as a focal point. The relevant office premises were allocated, while the respective staff trained, in addition to the Baku and Astara Customs Ports selected as project sites and the Internet connection provided to both. Additionally, portable HazMatID 360 detectors which are aimed at identifying chemical substances were handed over to Customs. A special training on using the portable detectors has been conducted for the Customs officers in December 2014. Starting from 2010, various training courses were held in Baku and Astara. Customs representatives, jointly with other relevant competent authorities from different countries were trained on container profiling; containers' inspection technique; container seals and its integrity; rip on/off technique; drug detection; risk indicators; ContainerComm and CEN systems; prevention of illicit strategic goods trafficking; as well as international best practices.

At the same time, the UNODC Regional Office for Central Asia organized study tours to Vienna, Panama, Rotterdam, Ashgabat, Almaty and the port of Poti, Georgia in order to strengthen the professional capacity while introducing  the Customs officers to the international best practices.

As you know, the ContainComm network is actively used by Program implementation team, namely the coordinator and other officers to properly fulfill their obligations. The network enables them to study activities and the best practice of other countries, the exchange of information via a secured channel.

The State Customs Committee officers participated in the regional exercise on promoting regional co-operation between Customs and other law enforcement agencies to identify high-risk consignments. The Customs representatives have entered the information on 10 cases related to the seizures of the illicit drugs into the ContainerComm platform.

Combating illicit drug trafficking is a matter of national security. The geographic situation of our country, which is located at the crossroad of Europe and Asia, in addition to the favorable transport arrangements make our country attractive for traffickers.

Combating illicit drug trafficking, psychotropic substances and their precursors is one of the most fundamental tasks of the Customs. Thus, the State Program on Combating Illicit Drug Trafficking, Psychotropic Substances and their Precursors for 2013 - 2018, which was approved by Mr.Ilham Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, is being implemented in Azerbaijan. A lot of work in this field has been done and will be done by the Customs Committee. Our priority for 2016 is to foster cooperation with international organizations, other country's relevant agencies as well as continue to invest in the capacity building of our staff and enhancement of data collection and sharing between law enforcement agencies inside the country and with our counterparts around the world.