UN to study helping Cyprus with illegal immigration through buffer zone

Interior Minister Nicos Nouris has expressed his satisfaction with the intention of the United Nations, to study the possibility of providing aid and support to Cyprus, in the matter of illegal immigration.


Nouris had a meeting on Friday at the United Nations with Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, with whom he discussed the immigration issue, the monitoring of those entering the buffer zone dividing the government controlled areas and the Turkish occupied territories of Cyprus and possible ways to solve the problem.


In statements after the meeting Nouris said that he had the opportunity to have two important meetings, with the Director of the Office of the UN Secretary-General, Courtenay Rattray and Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, with whom he discussed the immigration issue which is in the portfolio of the Ministry of the Interior.


He added that the Republic of Cyprus has focused its own presentation on the fact that Cyprus is the EU member state that faces the greatest burden in immigration.


“And of course we asked for the practical help of the United Nations through the peacekeeping force, by way of controlling those who enter the buffer zone with the obvious intention of crossing the green line and entering the territories controlled by the Republic of Cyprus,” Nouris noted.


“It is not an issue that can be resolved easily, the role and responsibilities of the peacekeeping force are well known,” added the Minister.


Nouris continued saying that he felt the two UN officials understood the problem and expressed his satisfaction with the intention expressed, especially by Lacroix, to study the possibility of providing aid and support to Cyprus, on the issue of illegal immigration.


“The way this will be done is something that will be studied,” he pointed out.


“For our part, we have made it clear that we would like the peacekeeping force to control in the same way as it controls the entry of Cypriots into the neutral zone, to carry out the same control for those coming from the occupied territories, but we will respect the fact that there are subtle balances and fine lines and I will content myself with the fact that Lacroix has said that he will study the matter from the side of the United Nations,” he added.


Replying to a question as to whether the Turkish side should also be approached Nouris said that “this is precisely why the United Nations has talked about delicate balances, what needs to be done will be done.”


“For our part, we have made it clear that this particular problem is a major issue for us, explaining that all these people whom Turkey is instrumentalizing and taking to Cyprus, are essentially trapped in the areas controlled by Cyprus since Cyprus is not part of the Schengen zone and these people cannot travel to another country,” he noted.


The Interior Minister also said that despite the fact that the Republic of Cyprus has achieved a very high number of returns this year, 4,600 people returned to their countries, the fact that 15,000 new asylum seekers have already arrived makes the situation extremely difficult “and I think the problem that our country is facing besides of course the problem of the occupation which is our national problem, was fully understood from the side of the United Nations.”


“There has been absolute understanding of the problem, but at the same time they have undertaken the obligation to study what they have heard,” he underlined.


Finally, he commented that it is unprecedented for the United Nations to have migrants crossing a dividing line.


He also referred to the fact that Cyprus continues to be the only European country that is divided, expressing the hope that this division will end despite the objective difficulties and the prospects being unfavourable in particular due to the revisionism of Turkey’s foreign policy.


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.


Source: Cyprus News Agency