The Fight Against Drugs Must Become a Mutual Goal
The drug problem is a relatively new phenomenon in Estonia although already in 1930 the Republic of Estonia as a member of the League of Nations had acceded to the opium convention and passed a law on import, export and sale of opium and other narcotic substances and preparations.
After World War II, Estonia and the rest of the Soviet Union observed requirements arising from the UN conventions of 1961 and 1971.
After Estonia regained her independence (1992), the Minister of Social Affairs formed a drugs policy committee in 1994. It may be regarded a result of the work of the committee that Estonia acceded to the above UN convention (1996), that the Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances Act was passed and cooperation was started with the EU Phare programme and the UN drugs control programme. At that time, there was no political demand to deal with drug issues and none of the political parties had included the issue on their platform. The main “pressure” on the government to ratify the conventions, create a national control and coordination centre, and launch preventive work came from international organisations. Immediately before the president of the international drug control committee visited Estonia in June 1996, a ministerial committee advising the government in drug issues was created. In 1996, a draft law on narcotic and psychotropic substances was submitted to the government that was enacted in 1997. This is the basis of drug policy in Estonia today. The government at its meeting on 25 November 1997 approved the principles of drug policy submitted by the Minister of Social Affairs, as well as “Alcoholism and drug prevention programme for 1997-2007“. In 1998, one million kroons were appropriated from the government reserve fund to implement the programme. In 1999 and 2000, 7.4 million has been allocated from the state budget. The Minister of Social Affairs has appointed an advisory expert council to coordinate the programme. The programme covers research, training of teachers, health workers and police officers, primary prevention work among children and youth, prevention work in special schools and detention establishments, and treatment and rehabilitation.
In his article, Anti Liiv stresses the need to address the topic of drugs not as a health care centred problem, but on a larger scale – as a youth related and social problem affecting the whole society. With reason, he considers preventive work to be of primary importance. What kind of drug policy strategy would best suit Estonia and how to more effectively prevent drug problems – this is a question concerning politicians, the government, scientists and the whole community.
Eiki Nestor, born 1953, car transport engineer, Tallinn Technical University 1976. Work: 1982-89 chief inspector of the Trade Union of Car Transport and Road Workers; 1988-92 deputy chairman of the Trade Union of Transport Workers; 1992-94 member of the VII Riigikogu; 1994-95 Minister of Regional Affairs; 1995-99 member of the VIII Riigikogu; 1996-99 member of the Social, Health Care and Labour Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Minister of Social Affairs 1999-. Affiliation: deputy chairman of the People’s Party – Moderates.