The aim of the new immigration policy is to limit the large flows of economic migrants, Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said on Tuesday.
He said that Cyprus is unable to absorb the number of economic migrants that are currently entering. Nouris emphasised that migrants now compose 3.8 per cent of the population – while in other frontline countries it is only 1 per cent.
The minister was responding to journalists questions after a housing policy meeting at the presidential palace.
It is, Nouris said, an extremely serious issue for the government, which has recently had the opportunity to discuss the matter with other EU interior ministers.
“What the Cypriot government is seeking to do is limit the flow of migrants,” he said. “The current rate of migration cannot be absorbed by the state and neither can we satisfy them.”
In previous comments, he has said the issue lies not with genuine refugees but with an increasing number of economic migrants.
“We have far exceeded the potential of the Republic of Cyprus,” he added.
Asked when the issue will be debated, he replied that “it is not a matter of discussion, it is a matter of implementation.”
Speaking on Monday, Nouris said his ministry was working on a new migration policy to curb migrant flows “in a rational way and always within the framework of human rights”.
Closed reception centres are being considered as part of a set of new measures. They will host migrants filling for political asylum while their applications will be processed within 15 days.
“There needs to be proper infrastructure, there needs to be a change in methodology,” he said.
Akel has accused the government of promoting racism over their new measures. Nouris said he does not want to comment on how Akel has dealt with the problem.
The minister acknowledged that Cyprus has a genuine obligation to help refugees but that the island is unable to deal with the number of economic migrants.