VIENNA, 10 May (UNODC) - The head of the United Nations drugs agency, Antonio Maria Costa, urged European Union leaders on Wednesday to "export security" to the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean by curbing demand for illegal drugs and helping the region to fight organised crime.
Speaking ahead of this week's summit of heads of state and government from the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean in Vienna, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said many Europeans were worried about importing problems from the outside such as drugs, illegal immigration, human trafficking and dirty money.
"I believe the response should be for Europe to e xport security by helping regions plagued by instability, violence and injustice to tackle their problems at source," Mr Costa said. "What happens in the Andes can become Europe's problem, if not today then tomorrow."
The UNODC Executive Director said he hoped the EU and Latin American and Caribbean leaders would agree practical measures to strengthen the fight against drug trafficking, corruption and organized crime.
"The threat posed by drugs can be lowered by reducing supply, demand and trafficking," he said.
"EU leaders should drive home the message to their people that there is a direct link between drug consumption in Europe and serious crime in the drug-producing countries of Latin America. When you buy a line of cocaine, you are putting money into the pockets of Latin American criminals."
Noting that drug-producing countries such as Bolivia are among the poorest in the world, Mr Costa appealed to the EU to do more to help farmers in drug-producing countries find sustainable alternative livelihoods. "Reducing drug supply must go hand in hand with promoting development and job-creation," he said.
Corruption was an impediment to good governance, democracy and economic development in many countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. "The countries of the region must demonstrate convincingly that they are serious about uprooting corruption - a job which no outsider can do for them," Mr Costa said. "But the EU can help by providing resources, know-how and assistance."
As a forthcoming UNODC report on crime and development in Central America and the Caribbean will demonstrate, the countries of the region can only develop effectively in a climate of justice and security. "The leadership must come from the region but it is in the EU's interest to provide strong support," the UNODC Executive Director added.
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