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27 May, 2024
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Less talk, more action

The Cyprus government's shift from talk to action signals a proactive approach in the country's new strategy on migration

Apostolis Tomaras

Apostolis Tomaras

The government seems to have adopted a new strategy when it comes to addressing the growing issue of migration flows. Rather than discussing it publicly, there appears to be a preference for silence among government officials, signaling a shift in approach. Minister of Interior Konstantinos Ioannou, for instance, has refrained from commenting on the recent surge in migratory flows, indicating a deliberate tactic by the government.

"The government, at this stage, does not wish to comment on issues relating to the protection of the interests of the Republic of Cyprus," stated Minister Ioannou, revealing the administration's new doctrine toward illegal migration flows, particularly by sea. This controlled flow of information is just one aspect of the government's new strategy, exemplified by the recent interception of five boats carrying migrants from Lebanon. The vessels were intercepted before entering Cypriot territorial waters and safely returned to Lebanon.

Aside from addressing the issue proactively, the government has also decided to suspend the processing of asylum applications from Syrian nationals. This decision aims to deter individuals waiting on the Lebanese coast from attempting to flee to Cyprus, exploiting the situation in Syria where they are allowed to stay upon return due to perceived risks to their lives.


Recent data indicates that the majority of illegal arrivals by sea are Syrian nationals, raising doubts about whether they are genuine refugees fleeing danger. Out of 3,111 irregular migrant arrivals in the first three months of 2024, 2,594 were Syrians, constituting 83% of the total. Security authorities suspect that many of these individuals are economic migrants taking advantage of the Syrian government's policies. Consequently, Nicosia is advocating for a policy shift toward illegal migrants from Syria, urging the European Union to reassess Syria's status and designate specific safe areas for potential returns under strict conditions.


Recognizing Lebanon as a key focal point for addressing migration flows, the government is prioritizing cooperation with the Lebanese government to tackle the issue at its source. Patrols by Cypriot vessels in international waters toward the Lebanese side serve as a crucial defense line, aimed at intercepting migratory flows before they reach Cypriot territorial waters. Interior Minister Ioannou affirmed that all measures taken to manage increased migration flows comply with legality and international regulations.

[This article was translated from its Greek original and edited for brevity and clarity]

Cyprus  |  Lebanon  |  Syria  |  migration

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