Vienna, 3 April 2014 - The Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov, met with the Austrian Minister of the Interior, Johanna Mikl-Leitner, today to discuss UNODC's activities in South Eastern Europe and elsewhere.
After the meeting, Mr. Fedotov said, "I welcome Austria's strong support for our work and UNODC is ready to continue our excellent cooperation in the Balkans under the umbrella of the South Eastern Europe Regional Programme."
"The importance of UNODC's Regional Programme extends far beyond the Balkans," Mr. Fedotov said. "The programme is tightly linked to other regional programmes, particularly in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries, where it is part of our overall integrated approach to drugs and crime."
The so-called Balkans route is one of the main conduits for heroin coming out of Afghanistan. UNODC estimates that around 60-65 tons of heroin, valued at some US$13 billion, moves along the Balkans route to destinations in Western and Central Europe.
Mr. Fedotov also informed the minister that, in West and Central Asia, drugs and crime remain a threat to sustainable development and healthy institutions. Last year, UNODC's Afghan Opium Survey found that cultivation of opium had risen by 36 per cent, and opium production by 49 per cent.
In late 2013, UNODC organized a founding meeting of international organizations in Istanbul to discuss how best to counter heroin's movement from Afghanistan to Europe.
Known as "networking the networks" the initiative is a component of an inter-regional drug control approach that is based on shared responsibility and fully aligned with the Paris Pact Initiative - a coalition of over 70 countries united to confront opiates.