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12° Nicosia,
21 July, 2024
 
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Nouris: 'The cause of Cyprus' immigration problem is Turkey'

The interior minister said yesterday that in the last five years, Cyprus has become the European member state with the largest number of asylum seekers

Source: CNA

Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said on Monday that Turkey is the eliciting factor of the migration issue in Cyprus, speaking at a press conference where he presented the work of his Ministry during his term.

Nouris said that despite European efforts, there was no response on behalf of Turkey’s side.

The Minister said that in the last five years, Cyprus has become the European member state with the largest number of asylum seekers. During this period a total of 63,303 applications were submitted adding that asylum seekers and persons who have already received protection status constitute 6% of the population of the Republic of Cyprus.

He said that drastic corrective measures were taken to tackle the problem including legislative measures, the conclusion of bilateral agreements with third countries, an increase of the judges of the Administrative Court of International Protection, the reform of the Refugee Law and the establishment of a Return Office under the Ministry.

Nouris said that in the first year of its operation, this office achieved the largest number of returns in the EU with 7,600 returns in 2022.

He further noted that a continuous and systematic effort was made to raise awareness among European partners, achieving the signing of four memorandums of understanding and support, the financing for the construction of the new Reception Center and the Pre-Departure Center amounting to €67.5 million from the European Commission, the provision of financial aid of €10 million from Switzerland for the construction of the new buildings of the Asylum Service, the aid of €1 million from the Czech Republic and €1 million from Hungary to finance the voluntary returns of migrants whose applications have been rejected.

In his statements, the Minister also noted that more than 78,000 Ukrainian refugees arrived in Cyprus after the Russian invasion of whom 16,000 are still on the island and the Ministry is taking on the responsibility of receiving and registering these refugees.

Nouris reiterated that influxes from the Green Line still constitute a huge issue, adding that drastic measures must be implemented to limit crossings.

Referring to Turkey the Minister said that in the last 18 months, Turkey systematically changed the demographics of migrants in Cyprus, explaining that most of the migrants are now from sub-Saharan African countries.

He also reiterated Cyprus' position on the need for EU investments in the countries of origin and not only in the host countries, adding that if jobs and decent living conditions are created in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, it is also certain that many will choose to stay in their countries.

Replying to a question the Minister said that there have been too many efforts in the last year on behalf of the EU at the highest level towards the Turkish government noting that there is simply no response from the Turkish side.

He added that at the same time, it should be understood by the Turkish Cypriots who might be interested in a solution to the Cyprus problem that allowing these thousands of illegal migrants to remain in the Turkish-occupied areas clearly does not help the possibility of a solution to the Cyprus problem.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

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