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Cablegate: Turkmenistan: Unodc's Caspian Sea Initiative

VZCZCXRO2677
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLH RUEHLN RUEHLZ
RUEHPW RUEHROV RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHAH #0855/01 1911001
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 091001Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1112
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 3988
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 1805
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1672
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 2241
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 0057
RUEAWJA/DOJ WASHDC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0824
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 2669

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ASHGABAT 000855

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/CEN, EUR/ACE, INL
DUSHANBE FOR DEA
MOSCOW FOR DEA
ISLAMABAD FOR DEA
ANKARA FOR DEA
AID/W FOR EE/EA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL EAID SNAR IR TX
SUBJECT: TURKMENISTAN: UNODC'S CASPIAN SEA INITIATIVE
MEETING PROMOTES DONOR COORDINATION

REF: A. ASHGABAT 0821
B. ASHGABAT 0798

1. (U) Sensitive but unclassified. Not for public Internet.

2. (SBU) SUMMARY: The First Caspian Sea Initiative meeting,
held in Ashgabat on June 24-26, gave Caspian littoral states
a good opportunity to discuss the counternarcotics challenges
their countries face. While the attendance of a Turkmen
deputy prime minister at the opening conveyed the
government's high-level support for the event, the country's
presentation largely resembled similar presentations it made
in the past. However, other countries -- Iran and Azerbaijan
-- gave much more detailed presentations, complete with
statistics and admissions that government statistics were
inaccurate. (NOTE: Post will send a CD-Rom containing all
presentations to INL. END NOTE.) A donors' roundtable held
at Post following the conference led to discussion of
problems that donors are facing and some possible solutions.
Donors and host-government officials alike noted and
appreciated the participation of an officer from DEA's
Bishkek office. Post encourages DEA to continue to build its
relationship with the State Counternarcotics Service through
frequent visits and holding training programs in and outside
of Turkmenistan, until Turkmenistan feels the level of trust
necessary to undertake joint operations. END SUMMARY.

HIGH-LEVEL TURKMEN GOVERNMENT SUPPORT

3. (U) In a sign of top-level Turkmen support, Deputy
Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers Maysa Yazmuhammedova
opened the First International Meeting on Illicit Drug
Trafficking at Sea Ports, conducted under the UN Office on
Drugs and Crime's (UNODC) Paris Pact Initiative on June 24.
UNODC initially planned for the meeting to last three days,
but agreed on June 20 to shorten the session to one and a
half days at the government's request. Delegations from
Caspian Sea Initiative member countries -- Iran, Kazakhstan,
Russia, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan -- and members of the
diplomatic corps and Turkmen law-enforcement officials
attended a drug burn on June 26. The conference closed later
on June 26 with a discussion of the member countries'
suggested improvements to the draft Caspian Sea Initiative
Action Plan. (NOTE: Embassy received a CD-ROM with all
powerpoint presentations and will send it to INL via pouch.
END NOTE.)

4. (U) The action plan's strategic objectives include:

-- Enhance drug- and crime-related data collection and
analysis capacity in each Caspian Sea state;

-- Promote drug- and crime-related information and
intelligence exchanges among Caspian Sea states;

-- Assist the Caspian Sea states to strengthen maritime
cargo, passenger, and vessel control in sea ports; and

-- Support security and stability activities by promoting a
common counternarcotics agenda, law-enforcement cooperation
and coordination in the Caspian Sea region.

MEMBER STATES' PRESENTATIONS: AZERBAIJAN

5. (SBU) During the conference, member countries and the

ASHGABAT 00000855 002 OF 003


Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre
(CARICC), UN Environmental Programme, and the World Customs
Organization made presentations. The Azeri delegation
admitted that the real number of drug addicts in their
country is higher than official figures suggest, but did not
specify the real number. The Azeris also stated that growing
drug abuse in their country is the main source for HIV/AIDS
transmission in Azerbaijan.

IRAN MAKES INFORMATIVE PRESENTATION, WITH STATISTICS

6. (SBU) A large and well-organized Iranian delegation
presented plenty of statistics in its slideshow, including:

-- Two million people are drug addicts in Iran, including 1.2
million regular users and 800,000 casual users;

-- Just under 17,000 people are afflicted with HIV;

-- Drug addicts primarily use opium, heroin, and hashish,
with synthetic drug use on the rise;

-- Iran spends $1 billion annually for "supply control,"
including border control and interdiction.

IRAN ASKS RUSSIA FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, CLARIFICATION

7. (SBU) The Russian delegation admitted that its border
personnel seized only a small amount of drugs imported into
the country. An Iranian representative asked via which
routes drugs enter Russia (besides through Iran), and the
Russia delegate stated that Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are
active transit areas. Following this, an Azeri envoy said
that Iran violates conventions through its attempts to
extradite its citizens a month after they have been convicted
of trafficking crimes.

UK TO END COUNTERNARCOTICS PROGRAMS IN TURKMENISTAN

8. (SBU) Following the conference's completion, the main
international counternarcotics donors in Ashgabat -- UNODC,
OSCE, and the UK, U.S. and Turkish Embassies -- met at a
post-sponsored roundtable to discuss improving coordination
of donor activities. UK Embassy DCM George Scott announced
that the UK is ceasing its counternarcotics programs in
Turkmenistan because the Foreign Office has determined that
narcotics sold in the UK are not trafficked through
Turkmenistan. However, the UK Embassy can still support
counternarcotics projects under the banner of "good
governance." Scott asked for any evidence that shows that
drugs trafficked through Turkmenistan end up in Great Britain
to help strengthen the Embassy's case in asking for
resumption of counternarcotics funds.

UNODC'S OBSERVATIONS

9. (SBU) UNODC's Ercan Saka said that within CARICC,
Turkmenistan had largely been a receiver of information,
rather than an information donor. However, he added,
Turkmenistan is starting to share results. Saka encouraged
donors to support Turkmenistan's drug control agency, the
State Counternarcotics Service, and suggested that sending
officials on study tours would support their exposure to
international best practices. UNODC wants to work on a
project encouraging cross-border cooperation between Afghan

ASHGABAT 00000855 003 OF 003


and Turkmen officials at the Imamnazar border crossing
checkpoint, and is waiting to see if the State Customs
Service supports the idea. UNODC is also urging
Turkmenistan's State Counternarcotics Commission to release
seizure data. Saka said that the Iranian delegation
volunteered to host the next Caspian Sea Initiative meeting,
and that some countries -- in particular, Iran -- expressed
concern at this Caspian Sea Initiative meeting over sharing
data with all Paris Pact partners.

OTHER DONORS EXCHANGE IMPRESSIONS

10. (SBU) Hakan Chengiz of the Turkish Embassy was not
prepared to discuss specific training programs sponsored by
the Turkish government, but agreed to furnish a list later in
the interest of enhancing coordination among donors. Donors
agreed that, while the State Counternarcotics Service's head
seems to be willing to work with the international community,
this willingness to engage does not extend to lower levels.
Donors discussed possible strategies for addressing
lower-level blocks, including holding a UNODC-coordinated
meeting with government officials in the UN building. Saka
emphasized the importance of picking out key partners in the
government and encouraging them to feel a sense of ownership
of their own projects. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
Special Agent William Gustafson said that although many
Central Asian drug-control agencies ask for significant
amounts of technical equipment, training is more important in
stopping narcotics trafficking. Gustafson finds it positive
that even though Turkmenistan is also asking for plenty of
equipment, the government is focusing on establishing a
training center as one of its primary needs, and he urged
donors to support the training center (Ref A). Noting that a
prison destruction that conference participants had been
forced to attend (Ref B) had nothing to do with
counternarcotics and stating that it had been a waste of time
for Caspian Sea Initiative meeting participants to attend
this event, George Scott added that Turkmenistan's officials
need guidance on how to promote more positive public
relations.

11. (SBU) COMMENT: Post recognizes DEA's disappointment
that State Counternarcotics Service chief Col. Murad Islamov
is more focused on equipment and training than on conducting
joint investigations with the DEA. Nevertheless, we
encourage DEA to continue to build its relationship with the
State Counternarcotics Service through frequent visits and
holding training programs in and outside of Turkmenistan,
until Turkmenistan feels the level of trust necessary to
undertake joint operations. END COMMENT.
HOAGLAND

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