by Pavlos Xanthoulis
"The country is in a state of emergency in terms of migration flows, and there is absolutely no chance of accommodating more migrants," President Anastasiadis said in a letter to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, referring to the Pournara migrant center and saying that "asylum and reception centers have exceeded their limits" in Cyprus.
in the case of Cyprus, Turkey has opened new avenues of irregular migration, leading refugees and migrants to the free areas controlled by the Republic of Cyprus.
In his letter, dated November 10, which was secured by Kathimerini, the President of the Republic calls, among other things, for the "immediate introduction of a mandatory relocation program for Cyprus" with the obvious goal of equal distribution of burdens with our partners in the EU and the activation of Article 78 (3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the Union.
In his letter, the President of the Republic describes in the darkest colors the situation prevailing in Cyprus, which is breaking one negative record after another throughout the European territory. Nikos Anastasiadis emphasizes to Ursula von der Layen that "the situation has reached a point that is beyond the government's ability to control and manage the excessive numbers" of flows. It calls for the immediate assistance of the EU, which is currently exhausting its "support" for the expression of solidarity, but without any substantial character, on the one hand, due to the provocative stoicism with which it faces the orchestrated channeling of migrants from Turkey and on the other due to insufficient support for Cyprus.
Therefore, President Anastasiadis now specifically addresses Ursula von der Layen and requests the following:
"I call on the Commission to activate Article 78 (3) TFEU (s.s. for the Functioning of the EU) and to take interim measures in favor of Cyprus, in order to deal with the state of emergency caused by the sudden influx of third-country nationals, in other words, the granting of the right to suspend the acceptance of new asylum applications until the situation becomes manageable".
"Immediately introduce a mandatory relocation program for Cyprus", (ie so that a number of asylum seekers relocate to other EU Member States, as decided in 2015 for Greece and Italy).
"Provide emergency financial support to cover the emergency operating costs of the current reception centers."
"Provide support for financial assistance and equipment, such as land and air surveillance systems and thermal cameras to monitor and secure the Green Line."
"Accelerate the examination of the request for the financing of Cyprus for the reconstruction and operation of the new Hospitality Center 'Limnes' and the construction of a pre-departure center in the same area."
Of particular importance is the fact that the presidential letter to Ursula von der Leyen has as its starting point the activation of Article 78 (3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, which states: "If one or more Member States faces an emergency situation due to the sudden influx of third-country nationals, the Council may, on a proposal from the Commission, adopt interim measures in favor of that State or States. The Council shall act after consulting the European Parliament", Article 78 (3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU states.
It is noted that Article 78 (3) was mobilized in 2015, when the Council, following a proposal from the Commission, decided to use its provisions for the urgent relocation, from Italy and Greece, of tens of thousands of people to other EU countries. Athens had invoked this article in 2020, during the orchestration of immigrants to Greece, orchestrated by the Ankara regime, from Evros.
In the case of Cyprus, in addition to the political denial of the EU, to catch the ear of Turkey, if nothing else at this stage, Nicosia also contradicts the fact that the whole issue has not received the publicity of the cases of Greece and Italy, at European level. But what is tragically provocative is that the Commission is whistling indifferently, not only today but for many years. All this, despite the fact that Cyprus is the first in proportion to its population in asylum applications throughout the EU, and Brussels knows first hand that Ankara is violating the Euro-Turkish Agreement (Declaration) of 2016, as well as knowing that Turkey will never implement the Readmission Agreement for illegal immigrants because it does not recognize, as it said, the Republic of Cyprus.
Nouri's letter to partners
In Pournara, with a maximum capacity of 800 people, the number of residents has reached 2,500 people and the capacity of this center has exceeded 310%, says Nouri in the letter to the Vice President of the Commission and the competent commissioner.
A letter similar to that of President Anastasiadis to Ursula von der Layen was sent by Interior Minister Nikos Nouris to EU officials, including the Slovenian Presidency, as well as to the Vice President of the Commission Margaritis Schinas and the competent Commissioner Ilva Johansson. They have shown not to have been sufficiently active so far to support Cyprus. In Nouri's letter, dated November 11, which was secured by Kathimerini, the Interior Ministry also states the same 5 points to the EU as noted in Anastasiades' letter to von der Leyen along with the following additional points:
"For the year 2021, more than 10,868 asylum applications have been submitted, of which 9,206 applicants have passed through the areas in which the Republic of Cyprus does not exercise effective control (occupied areas), through the green line, and ended up in the free zone areas."
"During the month of October alone, 2063 asylum applications have been submitted."
"Asylum and reception systems have exceeded their limits. In the first reception center, Pournara, with a maximum capacity of 800 people, the number of residents has reached 2,500 people and the capacity of this center has exceeded 310%. "The country is in a state of emergency with regard to migratory flows and there is absolutely no chance of accommodating more migrants."
"According to the latest official figures, 10,083 people have applied for international protection between January and October 2021 compared to 5,879 in the same period of 2020 (70% increase)."
Based on the above data, about which Nicosia constantly informs the EU, the Minister of Interior Nikos Nouris indicates in his letter with an indication "urgent" that the Republic of Cyprus is receiving extraordinary migratory flows and that "the situation is deteriorating day by day". Mr. Nouris also notes that "Cyprus is the first member state by proportion of population to receive the highest number of refugees and asylum seekers. The situation has now reached a point where it is beyond the government's ability to control and manage the excessive numbers of the flows, the Ministry of Interior characteristically states a position expressed by President Anastasiadis in the letter to von der Leyen. Nikos Nouris expresses the belief that the demands of Cyprus will be met immediately and positively by the EU.
The indifferent whistle of the EU
For many years, the Commission, but also several EU member states are literally indifferent to the situation in Cyprus even though the island is first in the whole European territory in asylum applications by population. President Anastasiadis had also sent letters to the former President of the Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, who made promises for additional support to Cyprus, which, however, turned out to be hollow. The additional financial assistance that was then given to Cyprus by the Commission (December 2018) was only 3.1 million euros, an amount that was rightly considered a "crumb".
The situation is similar today. Commissioner Ilva Johansson also made promises to intervene in the situation with Turkey after her visit to Cyprus but without any results. Ms. Johansson visited Ankara, but as we are informed, the issue of Cyprus and the organized channeling of refugees and migrants from Turkey was formally mentioned without seeking an immediate and substantive solution, which in turn leaves the Commissioner herself, and her political superiors, exposed. After all, the leadership of the Commission and Ursula von der Leyen herself consider and characterize the channeling of migrants from Belarus to the EU as a "hybrid attack", and rightly imposed sanctions on the Lukashenko regime.
It is noted that the EU (Commission and Council) has been informed by letters from Turkey that it will not implement the Readmission Agreement with Illegal Immigrants with the Republic of Cyprus because it does not recognize it. In addition, the Commission and the Council choose to turn a blind eye on the unprecedented violation of the 2016 Euro-Turkish Declaration by Ankara, and in particular, paragraph 3, which states: "Turkey will take all necessary measures to prevent the opening of new sea or land routes for illegal immigration from Turkey to the EU, and will cooperate in this regard with neighboring countries, as well as with the EU". On the contrary, in the case of Cyprus, Turkey has opened new avenues of irregular migration, leading refugees and migrants to the free areas controlled by the Republic of Cyprus.
The attitude of some Member States, refusing to lift part of the burden on the "front line" countries, including Cyprus, is also provocatively unacceptable. The four Visegrad countries, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, as well as Austria, are among the Member States that are completely indifferent and also refuse to contribute to the creation of a single European policy for managing the problem.