Vienna - The UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs opened Wednesday a global drug conference in Vienna to review its drug policies over the past decade.
Critics of the UN drug control policies say that they contribute to crime and drug abuse, in particular in the developing countries, which leads to instability and violence.
An EU report drafted before the conference suggests the international efforts to curb drug dealing have proven ineffective and change is needed.
Speaking to the conference delegates Bolivia's president Evo Morales chewed a coca leaf to demonstrate his point that the plant is harmless and should be remove from the international list of narcotic substances.
He said that the leaf "represents the culture of peoples in the Andean region."
"It is not a drug, it is a medicine," said Morales.
The EU delegation is represented by Czech Interior Minister Ivan Langer who spoke about Morales and chewing coca to Aktuálně.cz.
"He [Evo Morales] emphasized a point that is quite understandable: that the world is colorful with people observing diverse traditions and that a coca leaf is not cocaine," Langer told Aktuálně.cz.
"Whoever in Bolivia chews coca for his or her own need, he or she should not be included in the same category like a cocaine dealer," Langer said, swiftly adding that one room is not big enough for him and Evo Morales, since both of them are so "vastly different."
Since the Czech Republic presides over the EU, the minister could not speak for the whole union.
"I dare say my own view that I do not agree with this approach that does not respect various traditions and cultures …. It is as if they banned slivovitz in the Czech Republic," said Langer.
But it does not mean that coca should be exported to other countries, added the Czech Interior Minister.
The two-day UN conference is due to adopt new drug control policies for the next decade.
While some Latin American countries and Europe would like to see more emphasis on education and preventive measures, Russia and the United States are advocates of harsh repressive approach to drugs.