4 December 2017 National Assembly Deputy Speaker Djordje Milicevic speaks at the international parliamentary conference “Parliamentarians Against Drugs”
Tuesday, 5 December 2017
National Assembly Takes Part in First International Parliamentary Conference “Parliamentarians Against Drugs”
A National Assembly delegation took part in the first international parliamentary conference “Parliamentarians Against Drugs” in Moscow on 4 December.
The conference was hosted by the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and the Russian Foreign Ministry, in co-operation with the United Nations.
The objective of the conference attended by parliamentarians from 60 countries was to establish a parliamentary dimension to the international anti-drugs efforts and expand the existing legal framework so as to strengthen the cooperation on the suppression of the spread and use of drugs.
In the plenary part of the conference, chaired by the Speaker of the Russian State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin, the Head of the National Assembly delegation Djordje Milicevic said that the Republic of Serbia takes participation into gatherings such as this one concerning the production, trade and smuggling of drugs very seriously and is striving to actively participate in the joint efforts to resolve the problems relating to the use and abuse of drugs, in policy creation and expert approach to the problem, and the use of other countries’ best practice examples to improve the national system.
He said that the production, trade and smuggling of drugs is one of the most profitable types of organized crime in the Republic of Serbia, involving a great many criminal groups, and because of Serbia’s position on the international trafficking route, the so-called Balkan route, a lot of drugs pass through but do not remain in the country.
The situation on the illegal drug market in Serbia and the neighbouring countries has markedly changed in the last years, because Bulgaria and Romania, had joined the EU and because of the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo. These had shifted the heroin smuggling routes toward the Schengen borders to avoid the strict controls on the Serbian borders. He said that heroin comes to Serbia from Afghanistan and Iran via Turkey and Bulgaria and significant amounts are brought through Macedonia on the territory of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo-Metohija and enter the central part of Serbia through other channels.
MP Djordje Milicevic said that marijuana remains the most common drug in Serbia due to the way it is produced and the suitable conditions for growing cannabis. The number of detected labs for the production of synthetic drugs such as methaqualone (the only lab detected on the territory of Europe) is on the rise.
Recently, organized criminal groups of Serbian origin are becoming more common on the international cocaine market which is smuggled from South America to Europe.
To suppress drug-related crime and drug abuse the Government of the Republic of Serbia had adopted the Anti-Drug Strategy for the period 2014-2021 with the aim to improve and preserve the health of the population by reducing the use of drugs and the consequences of substance abuse. The strategy aims to step up and coordinate Serbia’s drug-prevention efforts, efficiently apply measures to reduce health and social problems resulting from drug abuse especially among children and young people, improve family protection measures, include all segments of society in the fight against drugs, etc.
Finally MP Djordje Milicevic said that international agreements are very useful for a successful fight against smuggling and illegal trade in narcotics, adding that the Republic of Serbia had signed a number of them both with countries in Europe and across the world.
The plenary was followed by thematic panels: session I – Enhancing anti-drug legislation, session II – Drug addiction: modern approach to treatment and rehabilitation and session III – Role of non-profit organisations in combating narcotic treatments.
In session I MP Djordje Milicevic said it is easy to agree that illegal drug trade is probably the key global security challenge as is to conclude that drugs are the source of the most serious crimes which is why this conference should send a clear message that combating illegal drug trade leads to a safer and healthier society.
He said that in the fight against drugs parliamentarians play a dual role – they help set up the normative framework that provides all the elements of the system with the tools for the combat and also have to insist that all the relevant factors use said tools to their fullest i.e. implement the laws consistently and to their fullest extent.
He stressed that in addition to the criminal laws, Serbia had also passed a series of laws which have directly or indirectly improved the state bodies’ anti-drug trafficking efforts.
He highlighted the positive anti-drug trafficking trends in Serbia and the optimistic statistics on the rising numbers of seized drugs, detected labs for the production of synthetic drugs and busted organized criminal groups.
MP Djordje Milicevic said that a developed normative framework does not guarantee a successful fight against organized criminal groups, which is why Serbian parliamentarians insist on regional and wider international cooperation, especially between security services, adding that the Serbian services’ professionalism had been recognized by a number of international partners.
He finally stressed that though the fight against organized crime is most often considered the job for security services he believes that a concentrated effort is the only way to suppress drug trafficking at the national level. That is why the spectrum of laws important for the fight should be viewed as broadly as possible, meaning that even parliamentarians not directly involved in security issues should be informed about the topic considering the destructive effects of drugs on society at large.
At the end of the conference the participants adopted a joint declaration:
- emphasizing the importance of the parliamentarians’ anti-drug trafficking efforts including their contributions such as the timely adoption of legislation based in the relevant norms of international law to protect the society from the drug challenge;
- highlighting the important role of international solidarity in the establishment of a reliable international management system to protect the society, including vulnerable groups from drugs;
- urging the United Nations to continue the fight against drugs as a key priority and set aside adequate means and capacities to tackle the problem;
- suggesting that the signatory states continue to allocate sufficient funds for the relevant programmes of the United Nations and other international associations and structures;
- emphasizing the importance of continued support to public-private anti-drug partnerships;
- encouraging the mass media, internet community and institutions directly involved in the prevention of drug abuse and protection of the most vulnerable population groups, including women, children and the youth, to contribute to the fight;
- appealing to prominent public personalities, cultural representatives and prominent athletes to express their support for the protection of the society from the threat of drugs and speak up and promote a healthy lifestyle;
- recognizing the role of the family and family values in raising a healthy generation in a drug-free environment.