The management and surveillance of the Green Line and returns, with the active support of the EU, are the priorities of the Government, said the Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Nouris, speaking on Monday night in a greeting at an EDEK conference on “Immigration: the problem, the people , the management”.
Mr. Nouris also said that the issue of migration flows is not partisan but national and despite the different approaches, there must be mobilization.
The Minister said that it is necessary to conclude EU agreements with third countries for safe returns and reiterated that the main cause of the problem in Cyprus is Turkey.
Mr. Nouris said that our country has an undesirable first in the EU in terms of immigration since 4.6% of its population are asylum seekers and immigrants. He also said that asylum applications in our country are very different from other EU countries, according to Eurostat data. As he noted, Cyprus has 9,671 applications per million population when in other frontline countries such as Greece and Malta, they do not exceed 2,000. Indicatively, he mentioned that in Greece the applications are 1,498 per million.
He spoke of a worsening of the situation at the end of 2021 when the authorities were called upon to handle 13,550 applications and 85% of them came illegally from the Green Line and Turkey.
The Foreign Ministry said that it is also noteworthy that until 18 months ago the first ten countries of arrival were Asian, except for Syria which is the first country of origin, while in the last year the top five countries are African countries and especially sub-Saharan Africa.
He said that there are testimonies of people that with cheap airline tickets they go to Istanbul and from there to the occupied Tympos where traffickers wait for them for a specific fee and transport them to the Green Line.
Mr. Nouris said that since 2015 52,000 people have applied for international protection and half of them come from safe countries, ie they are not refugees.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that 2022 started with bad omens and that we had 1,000 new applicants in the first days of January with Pournara currently hosting 2,300 people and 277 unaccompanied children.
He characteristically stated that we do what is humanly possible, but our potential is not inexhaustible. Responding to various criticisms, he said that we respect the right to support those in need and we know very well what it means to be a refugee, however, phenomena with Syrian and African factions can not be tolerated, we will not let them continue to happen.
The Foreign Minister said that he reiterated to his EU counterparts that we need additional support, not just money but a further understanding of solidarity.
In this area, he stressed, we want the lights of Europe towards Cyprus and expressed satisfaction because in a joint declaration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs it is stated that any measures at the external borders must be taken on the Green Line.
He also called on those criticizing the Green Line measures to submit their own suggestions for preventing inflows from the area, in addition to physical barriers and surveillance.
He said that while the Parliament passed a bill to toughen sentences, we have not yet seen harsh sentences from courts, expressing the hope that these will exist in order to send a strong message to the traffickers.
He said that our effort is continuous and uninterrupted at national and European level and that despite the fact that Europe is on our side, we must handle the issue of Turkey in a different way.
It does not mean, he said, that Turkey is receiving millions but whistling indifferently and proven to promote migrants through the occupied territories.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that last year 16,500 applications were examined and 10,000 were rejection decisions. He said he had asked his French counterpart to assist on routes to French-speaking sub-Saharan Africa for voluntary returns.
He also said that the problem of fictitious marriages and virtual students has decreased and that in the last five years the EU has supported Cyprus with 117 million euros in aid but another 178 million came from Cypriot taxpayers to cover the huge needs.
Turkey waging hybrid war on immigration against EU, Cyprus and Greece, Sizopoulos says
EDEK President Marinos Sizopoulos in his own speech said that Turkey uses the flow of migrants as a form of hybrid war against the EU and especially Cyprus and Greece, with the main goal of gaining political and economic benefits, creating strong lobbies in European countries to influence their policy and the deconstruction of social cohesion mainly of Cyprus, due to its small population size.
He also spoke of the formation of a Muslim community in free Cyprus, which he would later try to exploit, to emerge as a force for the protection of its rights, as is the case in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Mr. Sizopoulos stressed the importance of distinguishing between political refugees and illegal economic migrants from the beginning and spoke about the rights of refugees as defined by the 1951 Geneva Convention and the 1967 Protocol.
He said that labor exploitation should be avoided and proportional dispersal should be made in the population database in all member states of the Union, as well as the ghettoization of these individuals should be avoided.
The President of EDEK referred to a series of suggestions of his party for effective confrontation of the phenomenon, such as the installation of an electronic monitoring system in the ceasefire line, to detect and prevent the illegal entry of economic migrants. “We are pleased,” he said, “that this measure has already come to fruition. refugees.
He also spoke about the need to prevent the ghettoization of immigrants not by police measures but by quality development of the areas where they gather and added that economic migrants must apply to enter the Republic of Cyprus from their country and not fall victim to slave traders.
“We are particularly concerned that immigration is being exploited by capitalists to find cheap labor, without respecting even the basic rights of workers. At the same time, we would be blind if we did not admit that immigration is being exploited by the far-right fascist parties, in order to be portrayed as the “bobblehead”, the cause of the increase in crime and poverty. “Their ultimate goal is to justify their existence by creating a climate of xenophobia and racism”, said Mr. Sizopoulos.
He stated that the potential of the Republic of Cyprus is specific and depends entirely on the solidarity and assistance of the EU and noted that the sooner we react, the sooner we will solve the problem.
The head of the European Commission delegation in Cyprus, Myrto Zamparta, the Commissioner for the Protection of the Rights of the Child, Despo Michailidou-Libaniou, and Emilios Lambrou, former YAM commander and member of the Frontex Board of Directors, also spoke at the meeting.