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EU partners promise to support Cyprus in wake of migration surge

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President Nicos Anastasiades has received a promise of support from Cyprus’ EU partners after he issued a plea over the pressure the island was coming under from an upsurge in the number of asylum seekers, the presidential palace said on Thursday.

According to a written statement, Anastasiades was shown understanding from EU partners and institutions during the informal EU Summit, held in Salzburg, Austria, which ended on Thursday.

The statement said the president  received a promise of support and said he expects “the practical and general measures that the Commission and the European Council intend to provide to Cyprus in order to address this issue in the most effective way.”

Anastasiades, during his intervention at the official dinner on Wednesday night, the organisation of an extraordinary summit between the EU and North African countries, in which Egypt could play a crucial role in the issue.

“We believe that for the first time European partners realise the role that could be played by Egypt for stability and curbing [migratory] flows,” he said, speaking to the press in Salzburg on Thursday.

He expanded on the problems Cyprus was facing as a result of the increase in asylum seekers and how the problem was aggravated due to island’s division that facilitates illegal entry.

Anastasiades also referred to the EU28 debate on the security of external borders, and internal security, the fight against terrorism, promotion of cyber security, tackling fake news, and “in general the debate on the security measures that the EU needs to take in order to prevent similar phenomena that create instability in the societies of each country, members states and third parties alike”, he said.

“The informal two-day European Council meeting was very important in light of all these serious issues, including migration, the flows of refugees and economic migrants and the measures to be taken,” he said.

On Wednesday night, Anastasiades, the palace said, had the opportunity to discuss with British Prime Minister Theresa May, the Brexit debate and “some outstanding issues concerning the implementation of the acquis within the areas of the British Bases that are cause of concern to the European citizens “.
“What we have discussed today seems to be a positive development in order to ensure a smoothness so that not a third country can control the implementation of the acquis in the Basis areas, but the countries belonging to the EU, namely the Republic of Cyprus,”  he said.

He also met EU Chief negotiator Michel Barnier on the same issue. The president was briefed by  Barnier on “issues related to the sovereign bases, the Cypriot and European citizens”, on the sidelines of the Summit.
“I have to say that I am very pleased with the briefing by Mr Barnier, but much more from the conversation we had with the British Prime Minister regarding our specific issues,” he added.

Anastasiades also said he had discussed with members of the MED7 – Cyprus, Greece, France, Spain, Portugal, Malta and Italy – the idea of “a major summit on the problems of the Mediterranean countries.”
“I hope that there will soon be a date to be set for the summit of the MED7 to be held in Cyprus,” he said.

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