4. Key developments in drug markets of Eastern European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) countries
The presentation aims to highlight recent major changes in drug markets in East ENP countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine)
Desk review of relevant documents and around 30 in-depth semi structured online interviews.
The regional, subregional and domestic drug markets in the East ENP region have witnessed two major changes.
The first development is the emergence of the internet as a main platform for buying and selling illicit drugs. The majority of drug purchases are performed on online markets such as Telegram and the Darknet.
The second main change is the shift in drug use from traditional home-made substances to (imported) synthetic substances, including a shift away from heroin and towards methamphetamine and NPS. Particularly the synthetic cathinones, mephedrone and alpha-PVP have gained prominence in the region. The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have accelerated these developments in the past two years.
Stakeholders at regional, subregional and local level should increase their efforts to respond to the above-mentioned changes. This may be done by structurally monitoring the dynamic online drugs markets and by introducing essential services such as consumer drug checking services and other treatment and harm reduction services that meet the needs of people who use methamphetamines and NPS.