The government will introduce checks and identify everyone passing through the crossing points in a bid to curb migrant flows that raise a national survival problem due to demographic changes, President Nicos Anastasiades said.
In an interview with Sunday’s Simerini, the president said that the government will introduce checks and the identification of everyone passing through the crossings which is what the Turkish Cypriot side has been doing.
“What has not been done for more than two decades, from now on will be implemented so that we know who arrives (in the country) while at the same time measures will be taken along the buffer zone,” Anastasiades told the paper.
He added that the buffer zone is quite long and given the capacity of the National Guard due to its size, there are problems in guarding it more effectively.
“We determined however to find ways to curb these flows,” he said, adding that the large numbers of migrants have started to cause “a problem of national survival” due to the demographic changes observed.
Though the government does not deny help to refugees fleeing war-torn countries, Anastasiades said, he pointed out that Turkey channels to the island large numbers of refugees and economic migrants either by sea or air in a bid to cause problems to the Republic of Cyprus, which are already visible.
“Trying to cope and serve the number of migrants the state can handle is not an issue of racism,” he said.
He added that Cyprus applies to the letter all international law provisions on refugees and asylum seekers but pointed out that several EU countries have closed their borders to migrants and others refuse to take in any.
“They want to protect their economy, preserve the demographic composition of their population and to be able to absorb and integrate the number that can be integrated,” he said.
If one compares numbers as regards population, will find that Cyprus currently tops the list of EU countries as regards the number of asylum applications, he said.
On tensions in the eastern Mediterranean due to Turkish provocations, Anastasiades said that Ankara’s agreement with Libya on the delimitation of their exclusive economic zones (EEZs) which affects Greece’s interests, could lead to a crisis in the region.
If Turkey and Libya proceed with their threats on hydrocarbon surveys, Greece, he said, “has both navy and air force and will not accept any violation of its sovereign rights in its EEZ.”
Earlier this week, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu presented a map depicting what Ankara sees as its continental shelf stretching south of the Greek island of Rhodes to a few miles west of Paphos.
Foreign Affairs Minister Nicos Christodoulides told earlier this week Greek OpenTV that an initiative would be announced soon by Cyprus and Greece in cooperation with other countries in the region affected by Turkey’s illegal actions.
Christodoulides also said that unlike Ankara, the Republic of Cyprus focuses on substance instead of doing PR, referring to a social media post by Cavusoglu holding the map in question. “We see that Turkey is working on the communication aspect of the issue, trying thus to conceal its internal problems”, the minister said.