Minister of the Interior Nicos Nouris, has said that Cyprus cannot bear with the number of economic migrants arriving to the island, because it has surpassed the country`s capacity to host them, noting that the EU and the international community must realize this.
He said that Cyprus wants to return these migrants, underlining at the same time that no migrant will be sent back to a country where his or her life will be in danger. We want to return those who come from secure third countries and which come in order to find a better future, he added.
Nouris made the statements to the media after a meeting at the Presidential Palace, under Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, that was attended by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defence and the Interior, Nikos Christodoulides, Savvas Angelides and Nicos Nouris as well as the Director of the President’s Diplomatic Office, Kyriacos Kouros.
The Minister said that even though the rest front-line countries, including Greece, receive a large number of migration flows, they have never exceeded 1% of their total population, while this number has reached 3.8% at the Republic of Cyprus.
“Today we have unprotected minors and refugees in the Republic. We want them and we have the capability to receive them and offer them medical treatment,” he noted.
He said that during the past three days approximately 223 immigrants arrived to Cyprus, 153 of whom arrived today. He also noted that there is information that a small boat has been detected at the government-controlled areas of Famagusta and is being monitored by the services of the Republic.
Nouris said that international protection has been granted to12 thousand people, there are 17 thousand asylum applications which have not yet been examined, and 4 thousand applications before the International Protection Administrative Court.
All these people amount to approximately 32 thousand and constitute 3,8% of the Republic’s population, he added.
Nouris said that during today’s meeting they discussed the forthcoming EU Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs Councils` meetings which are expected to deal with the problem that has come up in Greece and the issue of the increased migration flows towards the Republic of Cyprus as well.
“We reviewed the situation and the President of the Republic gave concrete instructions as regards the positions which the Ministers who participate at the Councils will put forward,” Nouris said, adding that at the same time concrete measures are being promoted with regard to the management of migration flows in Cyprus.
Nouris said that the aim is to accelerate the examination of the asylum applications as well as the processes for these people’s return “so that our country will be able to reduce the number of economic migrants in the Republic in order to be able to offer what we are able and willing to give to those who really need it.”
Today’s numbers do not allow us to implement the proper policy and this is why a very concrete strategy is being drafted that will be put before the President of the Republic with additional details and will very soon be announced, the Interior Minister said.
He noted that the Republic of Cyprus remains vigilant due to the increased migration flows with a view to safeguard its security and deal with the asylum seekers as provided by the European Convention.
The Minister also referred to the telephone conversation which President Anastasiades had earlier on Tuesday with the Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis noting that the two governments have been coordinating their actions that will be put forward during the EU Ministers Councils.
He also stressed that a European asylum policy must be set up so that the EU will assume a role as regards the negotiations with secure third countries to which migrants have to be returned.
Moreover, Nouris said that he has invited EU Commissioners Johansson and Schinas to visit Cyprus and see the situation here by themselves.