Cabinet approves changes to Green Line implementation code to curb irregular immigration

The Cyprus Council of Ministers approved on Wednesday a series of amendments to the Green Line regulation’s code of implementation in a bid to reduce illegal immigration from the northern occupied parts of Cyprus, Minister of the Interior Constantinos Petrides has said.

The changes, inter alia, include beefed up police checks at the designating crossing points, prohibition of crossings to third country citizens who arrived in the country through illegal points of entry.

The Green Line regulation entered into force in May 1, 2004 and governs the movement of persons, goods and services between the government-controlled areas and the areas in which the government does not exercise effective control.

In statements after the meeting, Petrides said the regulation’s code of contact was put in place in the circumstances of 2004 which concerned a small number of crossings, mainly Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and a very limited number of mainly EU citizens.

Since 2004 the numbers have been multiplied escalating a problem that did not exist then, the problem of illegal immigration, he said, pointing out that a total of 28,000 crossing of third country (non-EU) citizens have been recorded in July alone.

He also said that there are increased cases where persons with visas obtained with false information arrive to Cyprus flying from Turkey or other countries to Tymbou, the illegal airport in the occupied northern part.

As Petrides added, the proposals jointly tabled with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, include amendments to the Green Line code prohibiting movement to the government-controlled areas of all third-country citizens who arrived from an illegal point of entry, either port or airport.

The amendments also prohibit third-country nationals, who obtained a temporary residence permit issued by Cyprus authorities, crossing to the Turkish-occupied territories, Petrides noted, pointing out that Cypriots and their family members as well as other EU citizens and long-term and permanent residency permit holders are excluded from the prohibition.

The amendments will also cover the crossing of underage persons permitting their crossing only if they are escorted by the parents, or by one parent with the written consent of the other parent or both in case he travels with other persons.

Petrides said the authorities will notify the EU Commission over the amendments, stressing that the regulation’s implementation code and not the regulation itself will be amended.

Due to the increased need for strict controls, crossings checks will be carried out by the Police at the crossing points, which will be shaped and staffed accordingly, he added.

Petrides furthermore noted that the Cabinet has authorized both him and the Foreign Minister to submit to the Parliament bills concerning illegal entry to Cyprus and the imposition of penalties and administrative fines with regard to the entry or exit from unauthorized entry points.

Moreover, he said that Ministries of Defence and Justice will enhance checks of unauthorized crossing points along the 300-km green line.

Petrides also said that the Cabinet decided that the Ministry of Education will examine and introduce a new mechanism to monitor third-country university students and the operations of private tertiary education institutions given the worrying increase of asylum seekers and false weddings submitted by third-country nationals who are in Cyprus with student visa.

Source: Cyprus News Agency