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Round Table: "Public-Private Partnerships in Preventing Drug Abuse and Trafficking"

March 14, 2003
Center for the Study of Democracy

Speaking notes for Mr. Boyko Kotzev, Deputy Minister of Interior

I would like to thank CSD for the opportunity to speak today on the partnerships that underpin much of our work in the Ministry of Interior. One of the big questions for all governments, & politicians, is what the role of the state should be. There was a time, particularly given our history, when the state took responsibility for everything. Circumstances have changed. Other factors play a large role in shaping the life of our country: economy (domestic, European & global); business environment; civil society; our relationship with other nation states; and cultural changes are forces that the state interacts with rather than controls. In many areas of public policy, & I think this applies particularly to drugs; we need to replace the notion of control with the need to develop partnerships.

I would like to illustrate this theme of partnership in three ways: 1) our work with the UK; 2) Drugs policy & strategy; 3) public-private partnerships.

UK Partnership

The Ministry of Interior has developed a strong partnership with our UK counterparts. In the area of people trafficking NSCOB works closely with NCIS. Our joint work covers everything from investigations into breaches in visa regulations, to protecting vulnerable people organized crime groups involved in people trafficking. We have a UK advisor in the Ministry of Interior. His work has helped us move forward in the areas of (operational information; community policing; institutional reform; anti-corruption measures) & is a good example of how "know how" can be transferred from one institution to another. At the operational level UK Customs provides valuable support to both the MoI & Bulgarian Customs. Our record on drug seizures is something that we recognize as benefiting from our partnership with the UK.

An area that I am personally responsible for on behalf of our government is the development & implementation of our first national anti-drug strategy. I would like to use this opportunity to publicly thank my UK counterpart, Vic Hogg, from the Home Office for the support that he & his team of experts have provided to Bulgaria. The development of cross-institutional strategies is difficult, not just here in Bulgaria, but in most administrations - a theme that I will return to shortly. However, the Ministry of Interior, has successfully overcome the initial barriers that delayed the development & implementation of our national strategy. We now have a National Anti-Drug Strategy, adopted by the Council of Ministers on February 7th & are working hard on the development of detailed action plans that will ensure the delivery & implementation of our national strategy.

As a result of our national strategy I hope that we will see more criminals involved in drug trafficking in prison; more addicts successfully treated; fewer young people starting to use drugs. This sounds simple. However, achieving these results will not be easy. As a minimum it will require our government institutions to work together at national, regional & local level. We have learnt from our UK advisors that partnerships within government are crucial to success, & like all partnerships, they require commitment, perseverance & patience. Our government has adopted the new strategy & in doing so calls upon all of us to work towards its successful delivery.

Public-Private Partnerships

I opened my talk by suggesting that in a modern democracy government cannot & should not seek to do everything. In the area of drugs policy there is clearly a role for a number of players to be involved: business; media; voluntary sector; local communities; and individual citizens. The results we want - "more criminals involved in drug trafficking in prison & more addicts successfully treated; fewer young people starting to use drugs"- will have more chance of being delivered if we can develop effective partnerships between public and private entities. This is still a relatively new area for us, but there are areas of good practice that can act as models for the way forward:

  • Our hosts Centre for Study of Democracy provide a non-government perspective to our understanding of corruption & its impact on the economy. Their current work on levels of drugs use will help guide our understanding at the national level;
  • Pheonix House, lead by Dr Petar Vassilev, with assistance from foundations & the private sector, has established a therapeutic community which is successfully treating young addicts & providing them with support to find their way back into society;
  • The Foundation for a Free & Democratic Bulgaria has drawn upon the expertise of Procter & Gamble, one of the world's biggest businesses, to bring basic drugs information & awareness to many thousands of Bulgarian parents - literally getting the prevention message home.

These are three important examples of how partnerships can add significantly to what government can do. In striving to achieve our aims, it is clear that we need to encourage, develop & sustain effective partnerships that will support Bulgaria's national anti-drugs strategy.

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