President Nicos Anastasiades expressed concern over the flow of immigrants from Turkey, which he said is an attempt to distort the demographic character of Cyprus.
The President was replying to questions at the Presidential Palace before chairing a meeting on migration, with the participation of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Interior, as well as the Director of the President’s Diplomatic Office Kyriakos Kouros.
President Anastasiades said Cyprus has a disproportionate number of immigrants in relation to its population, but pointed out that the aim was to take measures to curb the flow of migrants whilst taking into consideration the human anguish accompanying the flows.
Simultaneously, Anastasiades said, Cyprus’ demographic character must also be protected.
Anastasiades also held a lengthy telephone conversation with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, expressing the Cyprus government’s intention to contribute, either through Frontex or on a bilateral level, towards addressing the immigration challenges Greece – and Europe by extension – is facing.
Deputy Government Spokesman Panayiotis Sentonas said the Greek Prime Minister informed President Anastasiades about Turkey’s organised effort to flood Greece with immigrants in an attempt to blackmail the EU.
Sentonas said Prime Minister Mitsotakis thanked President Anastasiades and pointed out that the problems Cyprus is facing as a result of Turkish policies could not be ignored either.
In view of EU councils, they decided to stay in constant contact, Sentonas added.
Earlier on Tuesday, Government Spokesman Kyriakos Koushos said waves of migrants would continue and that Cyprus would be one of the main stops.
Koushos stressed that migrants currently amount to 3.5% of the Cyprus population, adding that the EU should finally take some serious decisions on immigration, and particularly on economic migrants.
Interior Minister: Cyprus unable to cope with economic migrant flows
The island can no longer cope with the number of economic migrants, and does not have the necessary infrastructure to host the flows, and this is something that the EU and international community must understand, Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said on Tuesday following the meeting at the Presidential Palace.
Cyprus is eyeing the return of economic migrants, Nouris said, clarifying that “we will not return anyone to a country where their life would be in danger. We want to return those people who come from safe third countries and who simply travel to Cyprus in search of a better future.”
Nouris stressed that the rest of the migration ‘hotspot countries’, including Greece, who are experiencing increasing flows, have never seen numbers that amount to over 1% of the population, though in Cyprus the figure has reached 3.8%.
“We have unaccompanied minors, and refugees. These are the people we want to and can welcome and care for,” Nouris said, noting that during the meeting Anastasiades issued strict orders for the speeding up of processes to repatriate economic migrants, so that the island can adequately host the increasing flows of refugees.
He added that in the last three days, roughly 223 refugees arrived on the island, 153 of which arrived on Tuesday.
An additional ship was also spotted off the coast of Famagusta on Tuesday, though no additional information was released.
Currently, Nouris said, 12,000 persons have been granted asylum, while the applications of some 17,000 are still pending.