Cyprus requests FRONTEX assistance to limit migrant flows through the Green Line at MED5 meeting

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior Dr. Costas Constantinou requested during the informal Ministerial Meeting of the MED5 (Greece, Italy, Spain, Malta and Cyprus) the assistance of FRONTEX to limit the flow of irregular migrants from Turkey through the Green Line, while the issue of the Green Line was also included in the joint communiqué that was signed by the participants. The meeting, which dealt with issues related to migration, asylum and returns, took place in Valletta, Malta, on 3 and 4 March and Dr Constantinou participated representing the Minister of Interior. According to a statement by the Ministry of Interior, the Permanent Secretary had the opportunity to provide information on the migration situation in Cyprus and, in particular, in relation to the arrivals of irregular migrants from Turkey through the Green Line, the efforts made by the country to manage migration flows, and the actions taken to increase the number of returns of irregular migrants to their countries of origin. It is added that Dr. Constantinou asked the new Executive Director of FRONTEX for the Agency to assist Cyprus’ efforts in order to limit these flows, which mainly come from the Istanbul airport, Turkey, whose troops have since 1974 occupied the island’s northern third, and through the buffer zone to the government controlled areas of the Republic, while he informed about problems that are also observed in Cyprus in relation to the implementation of the relocation programme for international protection applicants from Cyprus to other Member States of the European Union. This is the fifth meeting in a row of the group, the previous one having been organised in Cyprus last October. As stated, the meeting was divided into four thematic sections, the first one dealing with the issue of the external dimension of migration and return procedures, during which the necessity of cooperation with third countries – countries of origin was stressed in order to prevent irregular arrivals, as well as to increase the chances of returning to the country of origin of persons whose applications for international protection have been rejected or who continue to remain in the country without a valid residence permit. The second issue, according to the Ministry, concerned asylum and migration in general, in the context of the Solidarity Pact agreed between the Member States. It was noted that all countries expressed their disappointment with the Resettlement Mechanism, as the effective assistance ultimately offered to frontline countries is either very limited, while the administrative costs are a multiple of the benefits received. It was also re-emphasised that a permanent and compulsory relocation mechanism should be established, so that there is a real sharing of responsibility and obligations between Member States. It is added that the third theme included a discussion on return support operations and the role of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX) in particular, followed by a briefing by the newly appointed FRONTEX Executive Director, while in the fourth theme the Spanish Interior Minister presented the priorities of the upcoming Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU on Home Affairs Council issues. It is also noted that in addition to the Ministers and representatives of the five MED5 Member States, the Swedish Minister of Interior was present at the meeting and participated in the discussions, commenting on the issues in conjunction with the Swedish Presidency’s priorities on migration issues. As stated, the MED5 group informed the Swedish Minister of the serious problems faced by the frontline countries in relation to migration and asked that their positions be taken into account in the final formulation of the New Pact on Immigration and Asylum. At the end of the meeting, the five representatives of the MED5 group signed a joint communiqué, restating their positions on the external dimension of migration, the returns and the resettlement mechanism, as expressed during the preceding discussion, making specific reference to important issues concerning Cyprus, including a specific reference to adequately address the issues concerning the “Green Line” due to the particularities that apply, despite the fact that it is not an external border crossing point, the statement concludes.

Source: Cyprus News Agency