Cyprus Minister of Interior, Nicos Nouris, has called for the conclusion of a Status Agreement between FRONTEX and Turkey, as a matter of urgency and as a condition for additional EU support to Turkey.
He also urged front-line EU members to take immediate and decisive action to prevent the influx of irregular migrants and the potential criminal elements into Europe.
“this measure should also apply to the buffer zone, which although not an external border, is the main point of entry for irregular migrants..."
He made the remarks during a speech at the Conference on Border Management on Friday in Vilnius.
In his speech, he said that as the flow of irregular migrants to Europe continues to increase on some routes, including Cyprus and the practice of instrumentalization of migration for political purposes is spreading alarmingly among our neighbors, it is clear that the effective protection of our external borders is imperative for Europe`s stability and security”.
While referring to the migrant issues faced by Lithuania on their border with Belarus the Minister said “unfortunately, I can assure you that the problem is much worse in Cyprus”.
Nouris said that “the front-line Member States, acting as guardians of Europe`s external borders, should take immediate and decisive action to prevent the influx of irregular migrants and the penetration of potentially criminal elements into Europe. In this regard, border management is essential to prevent primary flows”.
He reiterated “our firm position on the financing of physical barriers at the external borders, as one of the most effective measures to prevent influx.”
In the case of Cyprus, he said, “this measure should also apply to the buffer zone, which although not an external border, is the main point of entry for irregular migrants into the areas which are under the effective control of the Government”.
The Interior Minister expressed regret that the proposal to revise the Schengen Code did not contain any relevant provisions, although almost half of the Member States have requested it and the President of the European Council Charles Michel has clearly stated that this was a legitimate request.
Given that the prevention of arrivals from the sea presents primary humanitarian, but also legal challenges and practical difficulties, the Minister said “we must redirect our focus on preventing departures from third countries of origin and transit, at source”.
For this reason, effective cooperation with third countries in order to strengthen their ability to effectively manage their borders and prevent departures, is vital, including investments in order to envisage economic opportunities in the respective third countries.
To this end, said Nouris, continuous efforts are needed to dismantle smuggling networks, with an enhanced role for EUROPOL, FRONTEX and EUROJUST.
The Cypriot Interior Minister called for the “conclusion of additional Status Agreements between FRONTEX and neighboring countries, as well as other countries of origin or transit, of the European Border and Coast Guard Standing Corps with executive power on the territory and the territorial waters of third countries”, adding “in this context, Cyprus requests the conclusion of a Status Agreement with Turkey, as a matter of urgency and as a condition for additional EU support to Turkey”.
He added that the EU should make full use of all available tools to promote the effective implementation of 'return and re-admission agreements'.