The problem with drug trafficking in Central Asia is linked to production of opium, heroin, poppy in Afghanistan. When the United States began the war against terrorism in Afghanistan 10 years ago, they were going to destroy the entire culture of opium in it. But they decided not to destroy it, because a lot of people in Afghanistan needed this production in order to maintain their livelihood.
Valdaiclub.com interview with Arnaud Kalika, Chief Editor, Confidential Newsletter Strategic Information TTU, lecturer, department for the study of organized crime, University of Paris II.
Who is conducting drug trafficking through Central Asian countries, and with what aim?
The problem with drug trafficking in Central Asia is linked to production of opium, heroin, poppy in Afghanistan. When the United States began the war against terrorism in Afghanistan 10 years ago, they were going to destroy the entire culture of opium in it. But they decided not to destroy it, because, they said, a lot of people in Afghanistan needed this production in order to maintain their livelihood.
The problem is that NATO and the United States will leave the Afghanistan in one or two years. In France, we believe that this could foster a kind of destabilization in the country, especially because the production of opium and all drugs will rise sharply, which will lead to trafficking through Central Asia, the Caucasus, Russia and then Europe. So everything is linked to the departure of NATO and the United States from that country.
What measures will be undertaken by countries to minimize consequences of the coalition's troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and the possible rise of illicit drug trafficking?
The French position is that we cannot withdraw from the country, as our president and candidate has decided, without taking measures not only in the field of security, but in the area of illicit drug trafficking as well. But no measures with regard to this problem are on paper. So we will withdraw and we will leave the country to itself, unfortunately.
In your opinion, what role will cooperation between the countries of Central Asia play in terms of regional stability and combating drug trafficking?
All these countries have to work to find a kind of common strategy. The problem is that you have drug problems in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, but, for instance, there are no drug problems in Turkmenistan. These countries have to find a common strategy because the drug trafficking is linked to terrorism. They can find a common viewpoint on this topic, a kind of a doctrine that will combine the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking. Kazakhstan will be a kind of leader in this area. Can they do it without Russia? That's a problem. Can they do it without China? That's a question.
Russia wants to be a kind of leader in fighting drug trafficking. I read some declaration by Minister Lavrov, where he named drug trafficking as a kind of priority of Moscow’s foreign policy. Actually we know that in Russia, a large part of the population, especially in towns, has a lot of problems with drugs. Many associations and NGOs are trying to combat these trends. As far as we know, the road of drug trafficking passes through Russia, through the Caucasus. So Russia cannot be put outside of this process.