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18 July, 2024
 
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From academia to governance: Cyprus' latest Deputy Minister

Dr. Nicolas Ioannidis steps into the political spotlight with the immigration portfolio

Apostolis Tomaras

Apostolis Tomaras

The establishment of Cyprus's Deputy Ministry of Immigration and International Protection coincided with a challenging period, influenced by the ongoing humanitarian crisis in neighboring Israel. Nicolas Ioannidis assumed the mantle of the first Deputy Minister, transitioning from academia to a previously low-profile governmental role. Ioannidis enters active political life with a reputation forged through his dedication to public service and significant contributions to key positions in Cypriot diplomacy.

The new Deputy Minister will have an initial grace period to navigate, steering clear of immediate comparisons with Interior Minister Constantine Ioannou, who handed over the immigration issue under stable conditions. The marked decline in migration flows since March 2023, coupled with increased returns and effective management of the "Pournara" Reception Centre, underscore Ioannou's successful strategies where previous efforts fell short. Nonetheless, despite these positive signs, migration remains a volatile issue susceptible to resurgence if vigilance wanes. Ioannidis inherits a challenging yet managed portfolio, with an assessment slated for after the summer to gauge progress in sustaining effective strategies initiated by his predecessor.

Maintaining effective communication channels with the National Guard is pivotal for managing both land and sea migration flows, particularly in facilitating returns to mitigate humanitarian crises. During Ioannou's tenure, services conducted deterrent information campaigns in African countries to address migratory pressures. However, the primary focus for the new Deputy Minister should be Brussels, acknowledging that immigration is a shared responsibility among EU member states grappling with similar challenges, including Greece, Malta, Italy, and Spain. Ioannou's diplomatic efforts within the EU and Lebanon form a robust foundation for Ioannidis, significantly shaping current return policies.

As Ioannidis assumes a more visible role, he must prepare for potential challenges and scrutiny, recognizing that political life brings both opportunities and adversities. His previous roles in behind-the-scenes diplomacy have equipped him well, yet navigating the spotlight will demand resilience and strategic leadership as he confronts the complexities ahead.

[This op-ed was translated from its Greek original]

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