Tallinn - Afghanistan, the world's largest grower of
opium poppies, should not shoulder all the blame for its drug surge, its
foreign minister said on Tuesday while on a visit to Estonia.
"It's not only Afghanistan but the global demand for
drugs that should be blamed for illegal narcotics from Afghanistan,"
Zalmai Rassoul told journalists in Tallinn.
Bringing that demand down "requires an international
effort", he added, as Afghanistan struggles to eradicate its rapidly
growing poppy industry.
The UN released a report this month warning that the
country, one of the world's poorest, is moving towards record levels of opium
production this year.
Opium is used to make heroin.
Afghanistan already cultivates about 90% of the global
opium supply and now production is expected to rise for a third straight year,
expanding even to poppy-free areas.
Rassoul joined Afghan President Hamid Karzai for a
two-day visit to Estonia, which has troops stationed in Afghanistan.
Controlling the trade
According to the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC),
Afghanistan had around 154 000ha of poppy fields in 2012.
Last month, Kabul said it planned to destroy 15 000ha
this year in its latest efforts to control the heroin trade that fuels endemic
violence and corruption.
Poppy farmers are taxed by Taliban militants who use the
cash to help fund their insurgency against the government and Nato forces,
according to the UNODC.
"Afghanistan is suffering from drugs too,"
Rassoul said on Tuesday, adding that the number of Afghan drug addicts is on
Asked why the government was struggling to curb opium
cultivation, Rassoul said: "We have been busy fighting on many fronts,
"In areas controlled by the government, drug
cultivation is falling, but we do not control the whole Afghan territory
yet," he added.