Russia, Macedonia to pool efforts against terrorism, drug trafficking

SKOPJE, September 5 (Itar-Tass) —— Russian Deputy Interior Minister Sergei Bulavin had talks with Macedonian Interior Minister Gordana Jankuloska on Monday, September 5.

The talks focused on interaction between the two ministries in the fight against high-tech crimes, terrorism, transnational organised crime, and drug trafficking.

“The main goal of the visit by the Russian delegation was holding expert consultations on the draft agreement on cooperation between the Russian and Macedonian interior ministries,” Bulavin said.

“I used the opportunity to give Mme Jankuloska an invitation from the Russian Interior Minister to attend the XV International Exhibition of state security means Intetrpolitex-2011,” he said.

According to Bulavin, the ministers of the two countries could sign the agreement at the exhibition to be held in Moscow on October 25-28.

Jankuloska said “there are many ways to strengthen bilateral interaction between our countries”, primarily by “concentrating the effort on the joint fight against terrorism, high-tech crimes, trafficking in humans, arms and drugs”.

She also said Macedonia would be interested to have its policemen trained at the Russian Institute of Advanced Training for Law Enforcers in Domodedovo.

On August 25, Director of the Russian Federal Service for Control of Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (FSKN) Viktor Ivanov and Jankuloska signed an agreement on cooperation in the fight against illegal trafficking in drugs and psychotropic substances.

Ivanov said that a “Balkan quintet” for fighting drug trafficking could be created by the end of this year.

“We are continuing consultations and I hope we will come to a decision by the end of this year,” he said.

According to Ivanov, the drug situation in the Balkans is quite alarming as the bulk of narcotics travel through Kosovo. Besides, criminal groups based in Kosovo operate beyond its boundaries virtually across the whole of Europe in search of maximum profit from drug transit.

European Union police services say that Albanian criminal groups control up to 70 percent of the heroin market in Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and Hungary and up to 20 percent of drug trafficking in Britain and other countries in the region.

“In addition, many Kosovars have settled in the south of Italy in Calabria and closely cooperate with the local Mafia,” Ivanov said.

“In Kosovo, one kilogram of heroin costs 10,000 euros, but 150,000 euros in Western Europe. Heroin trade generates tremendous profits and is of paramount importance for Kosovo where unemployment is 40 percent, and this is one of the difficulties in fighting drug trafficking,” he said.

In addition, “Serbia’s police are not allowed to carry out necessary operations in the province”, he added.

Ivanov believes it advisable for Russia to consolidate its efforts with the countries bordering on Kosovo and create a Balkan anti-narcotic quintet made up of Russia, Serbia, Albania, Macedonia, and Montenegro.

He said the main purpose of the quintet would be to “curb the Kosovo narco cluster”.

Serbia and Russia have already signed an agreement on joint fight against illegal trafficking in narcotics, psychotropic substances and their precursors.

“We actively cooperate with Great Britain and the United States in fighting the narco threat and hope for just as active cooperation with Russia in this respect after the signing of the agreement. Now Serbia will get deeper engaged in the global fight against illegal drug trafficking,” Serbian Minister of the Interior Ivica Dacic said.

He noted that Serbia is on the so-called “Balkan route” used for drug trafficking that brings two-thirds of heroin made in Afghanistan to Europe.

Lately, drug traffickers have been using the Balkans as a transit point for supplying cocaine from Latin America to EU countries.

“This is a global phenomenon, and no country alone can solve this problem. This requires common will and active cooperation,” the minister added.

“The biggest threats is coming from Afghan global drug trafficking,” Ivanov said earlier.

“Moreover, three years ago Afghanistan became the world’ s indisputable leader in the production of hashish, leaving Morocco well behind. The amount of hashish supplied to Russia alone has increased 12 times since then,” he said.

“Destructive effects for international security from global drug trafficking as targeted, intensive and large-scale phenomena can be classified into five key groups,” Ivanov said.

These are “incapacitation of borders as international dimension units and their ability to solve tasks related to development of society; generation of network criminal infrastructures that lead to increased violence and cruelty, with their inevitable transformation into extremist and terrorist groups”.

These are also “steady and permanent self-sponsorship of criminal activities in all of its forms, including the terrorist one. Transnational drug transit acts as a targeted feeder that incites and blow up regional conflicts, including piracy that has gained momentum in the Gulf of Aden”, Ivanov said.

More than 90 percent of all heroin are made in Afghanistan. The Helmand province alone makes more than 60 percent of it, he said.

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