Joint Press Release of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry Of Interior
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Nikos Christodoulides, and the Minister of Interior, Mr. Nikos Nouris, held a meeting yesterday, 18 February 2021, with the participation of experts from the two Ministries, in order to discuss and coordinate on effectively promoting the positions of the Republic of Cyprus in the framework of the discussion of the new Migration Pact of the European Union.
Concerning the internal dimesion of migration, the gravity and scale of the situation in Cyprus, and the disproportional weight Cyprus shoulders from migration flows as a front-line country were highlighted. Cyprus, as a result of its particularities, the fact that it is an island, with part of its territory under military occupation, is for the fourth consecutive year the EU Member State with the highest number of asylum applications in proportion to population. The percentage of asylum applicants and beneficiaries of international protection amounts to 4% of the population, a particularly high percentage, given that in all other Member States the percentage is close to 1%.
It was noted that the overwhelming majority of migration flows originated from Turkey, a country that fails to implement all agreements regarding migration towards Cyprus. In fact, Turkey’s stance has led to the creation, rather than prevention, of a new migration route in the eastern Mediterranean, which disproportionally burdens Cyprus, and places enormous strain on the national asylum system. It was underlined that there is an urgent need for the European Commission, and for international organisations, taking into consideration the specific circumstances and particularities of Cyprus, to assist in finding immediate practical solutions to prevent illegal flows but also to ensure legal returns.
In this framework, the Ministers outlined an action plan, and agreed on joint actions both at the political and technocratic level, in Brussels and other international fora, to present the extent of the migration crisis faced by Cyprus and to ensure that the Republic of Cyprus receives the assistance required to effectively address it.
It was agreed that migration will feature prominently in the agenda of contacts of both Ministers, who will remain in continuous coordination ahead of the “jumbo” teleconference of EU Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs that will take place on 15 March, as well as ahead of the upcoming discussions on Turkey at EU level.