A historic agreement on the management of the immigration problem in Cyprus, the Memorandum of Cooperation between the Republic of Cyprus and the EU on Immigration, was signed today at the Presidential Palace.
The Memorandum was signed on behalf of the Republic of Cyprus by the Minister of Interior Nikos Nouris and on behalf of the European Commission by the Commissioner for Internal Affairs of the European Commission Elva Johansson, in the presence of the President of the Republic Nikos Anastasiadis and the Vice President of the Commission Margaritis Schoinas.
The Memorandum provides for actions in three main areas. The first has to do with the starting points and origins of these migratory flows, the second with the strengthening of the reception and management structures of the migratory flows of the Republic of Cyprus and the third with the return of these flows to the countries of origin.
< p>In his statement after the signing of the Memorandum, Mr. Schoinas described today as important and emblematic, “because we are turning the page together with the European Union and the Republic of Cyprus in managing a problem that has become very large and creates a disproportionate management burden in Cyprus. one of the smallest EU Member States under great pressure in a particular political and institutional aspect of its operation directly linked to the Green Line. “
He said that the green line is not the external border of the EU but the European Union and what we are doing today, as he noted, is to systematize in a single framework of political commitments, actions and specific commitments a network of initiatives that will mobilize all European services. but also all European organizations, linked to the management of immigration and asylum in a single coherent set of initiatives, which, as he said, “will change the situation and in fact soon”.
Mr. Schoinas then referred to the three main lines of action, saying that the first has to do with the starting points and origins of these migratory flows and that requires immediate action and in which he personally commits himself to take relevant initiatives. The second concerns the assistance to the Republic of Cyprus for the strengthening of the reception structures and the management of the migration flows, with the peculiarity of the green line. Finally, the third pillar and key element of this new initiative is the adoption of an enhanced wave of returns of those migrants who have no reason to be under EU legal protection, asylum protection in their countries of origin. “In all three areas, we will work together with the EU and the Republic of Cyprus hand in hand,” he said. The efforts made by the Government to manage a problem that has plagued our country in recent years.
He said that in Cyprus the excessively increased flows have brought a lot of negative effects on the economy, social cohesion and security of the country, while at the same time and while the reception and hospitality opportunities have long been exhausted, the exploitation of the asylum system by persons which do not require international protection, deprive the state of the ability to provide meaningful hospitality, care and support to those in real need.
Mr. Nouris said that today's signing of the Cyprus-European Union Memorandum of Understanding is the strongest proof that Europe is here. “They listened to us, they understood the problem we are facing and it is on our side,” he said, adding that a number of agreements have been reached through hard work in the past, such as support for the management of structures with the European Asylum Service (EASO). , with the European Commission on refunds, with FRONTEX also on assistance with operational refunds, and bilateral agreements have already been reached with the most important ones being Germany and France.
The Minister said that the Action Plan is now a complete and effective roadmap for all actions taken by the immigration management chain. From the control procedures, the improvement of the reception and asylum conditions, the integration and socialization, the complex but extremely important return procedures, the readmission, but also the very important pillar of the support of the vulnerable groups such as the unaccompanied minors.
All this, he noted, will be done with the aim of decongesting the Asylum and Immigration system and the Republic itself through targeted European funding that will cover the needs of Cyprus.
He also stressed the need to finally conclude the Agreement on the Immigration and Asylum Pact. The Republic of Cyprus, he said, unreservedly supports the need to reach an agreement, but an agreement that must be based on genuine solidarity and responsibility of all.
As for the Green Line, he said that it is our Achilles our heel and the space through which dozens of illegal immigrants pass every day, all coming from Turkey, either by air or by sea, emphasizing that this wound must be closed.
“Cyprus needs practical European solidarity. It is necessary, in the alpha or beta way, to convince Turkey of the need to comply with what Europe has proposed to Lithuania, Poland and Estonia. “It is necessary to end the instrumentalization of immigration at the expense of Cyprus, a decisive message needs to be sent to the Turkish authorities, just like in the case of Lithuania,” he said, noting that Cyprus also needs an effective return system to safe third countries. >
Mr. Nouris noted that we are not ignorant and that after many years, for the first time, the Republic of Cyprus receives the real and substantial support of the European Union in the field of immigration. “The personal interest shown by both Vice President Schoinas and Commissioner Johansson, as well as high-ranking technocrats of the Commission, allow us to feel optimistic that Cyprus is not alone in this effort, but now enjoys the support of the great European our family “, he said.
Asked by Mr. Schoinas and Mr. Nouris about the practical implementation of the action plan, Mr. Schoinas said that the ambition in Brussels is at some point to stop working with the logic of firefighting but to enter the logic of architecture. . “We have not achieved this yet, but we have the proposals for this new Immigration and Asylum Pact on the table, for which in the post-pandemic era I believe that the lifelong contacts of the Ministers will accelerate developments,” he said.
< p>On a practical level, he said, we must definitely deal with the starting points of the flows. “We know where these points are and as we have found in the past a field of communication with Turkey and other countries of origin that has allowed us to deal with these phenomena, we must try again now and hope that this positive predisposition of Turkey will be repeated. and Turkish Airlines to contribute to a partnership with us. We need to check the starting points “, he said and added that he will be in Istanbul at the beginning of March and will have a significant field of contacts exactly for this issue.
Then he said that the second practical issue is the green line , noting that there should be a combination of different means, technological means but also some means that will allow the monitoring and tightening of transit procedures there.
Finally, he pointed out that returns are extremely important, saying that Cyprus has already successfully started a wave of returns. “Now, with the help of both FRONTEX and ours, these returns must be strengthened. “There will be no immigration policy in the EU without a very convincing framework for returns,” he said.
He stressed that there are no magic solutions to immigration, there is no button you press and all this is solved overnight, it takes a lot of hard work, multifactorial work “and we know exactly what needs to be done and we will do it.” p>
In the same question, Mr. Nouris said that the Republic of Cyprus has structured in a very specific way and has upgraded its immigration policy in a very specific way. He added that we know the root cause of the problem, which is in the name of Turkey, and noted that the requests to the European Commission are on very specific issues.
First, there is the issue of green line management, he said, saying there is no magic formula, something that has been found in Lithuania, Poland, Estonia and other countries. The need for physical barriers is a deterrent to crossings, followed by technology and surveillance. On return issues, he continued, we ask the European Commission to conclude bilateral agreements with a number of third countries, which are not currently cooperating.
Asked how realistic it is for Mr. Schoinas to persuade Turkey to stop the flow of migrants, he said he did not like to negotiate words before starting in practice. “All countries of origin and transit, and especially the immediate neighbors, must know that they have much to gain by working with us in the management of immigration and have everything to lose by working towards Europe,” he said, noting that the crisis in Evros Clear Monday 2020 was a point where this message became clear to everyone.
Concluding, he said that he is relatively optimistic, but none of this is a given. “In the wider context where the neighbors understand the value of cooperation, we will make every effort to achieve our negotiating goals,” he said.
European Commissioner Ilva Johansson, in her own web address, said that the Memorandum comes in response to the existing immigration challenges that the Republic of Cyprus is currently facing. With this Memorandum, the European Commission together with the EU Asylum Agency, Frontex, Europol, we continue to intensify further and, where necessary, support in Cyprus in the management of migration, he said.
“Recognizing Cyprus 'constructive approach to ongoing and enhanced cooperation in migration management, today' s signing of this Memorandum will help Cyprus to establish a sound migration management system in line with relevant EU standards and laws and will send a “The Commissioner noted that the Memorandum will legitimize the EU's support to Cyprus, mainly through an updated version of the action plan agreed between the Commission and the Commission.” Cyprus in 2019 and will be a roadmap for all actions required throughout the migration management chain.
In particular, he said, the implementation of the Memorandum and the Action Plan will strengthen the effective mobilization of the necessary resources by the Commission and the Organizations on the part of the EU, and all relevant bodies on the Cypriot side, with the aim of strengthening reception capacities. in line with the EU legal framework, improving the situation at the Pournara Reception Center, implementing timely and effective asylum procedures, addressing the backlog of applications, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the return system effective strategy for the reception and integration of third-country nationals.
“The implementation of the action plan based on existing national and Community legislation is in practice an example of solidarity. “This principle should be the pillar of a holistic approach to migration, as reflected in the Immigration and Asylum Pact,” he said.
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Memorandum of Cooperation on immigration is signed today at the Presidential Palace Nouris – Schinas