President Anastasiades presented Cyprus` positions on migration, during a discussion on the external aspects of migration that took place yesterday, at the afternoon session of the European Council in Brussels, government spokesperson Marios Pelekanos said in a written statement.
President Anastasiades reiterated the requests put forward by Cyprus, including the request for the EU`s assistance in carrying out immediate and mandatory returns of persons whose asylum applications have been rejected. He also requested assistance towards the handling of flows through the Green Line, pointing out that this would not mean that it is being recognized as a border.
President Anastasiades informed his counterparts "of the magnitude of the problem Cyprus is facing due to the very high migratory flows which, for a long time now, have made the Republic of Cyprus by far the first EU Member State in terms of the number of applications for political asylum in proportion to its population".
Anastasiades added that "today, the percentage of asylum seekers or persons who received protection status amounts to 4.4% of the population of Cyprus, a percentage that does not exceed 1% of the population in other front-line Member States", according to the government spokesperson.
The President added that "the vast majority of persons seeking asylum in Cyprus are persons from safe countries of origin, who arrived at the occupied territories from Turkey, and from there taken to points along the ceasefire line from where they subsequently cross illegally into the free territories".
The President of the Republic condemned the unacceptable instrumentalization of migrants by Turkey and stressed the need for the EU to take effective measures to prevent such moves, both from Turkey and from any third country that exploits human suffering in an attempt to gain political benefits.
The President also referred to his recent letter to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel, in which he described the dire situation in Cyprus and the unbearable pressure on the state and the Immigration and Asylum services, as well as what is required from the EU to alleviate the problem.
Anastasiades explained these requests "in no way negate the obligation of the Republic of Cyprus to support the right to apply for international protection or to continue the examination of ongoing asylum procedures, as enshrined in international and European law" and also stressed the importance of finding practical ways for the EU to assist Cyprus and its partners, in a way tailored to Cypriot specificities and needs.
A step in the right direction, according to President Anastasiades, would be the EU`s assistance in carrying out immediate and compulsory returns of persons whose asylum applications have been rejected by the Cypriot authorities.
He also called for "Cyprus to be provided with the ways and means to manage and guard the Green Line, which remains our Achilles` heel, without meaning that it would be considered a border in any way".