Greece and Cyprus face similar challenges in managing the migration issue, ministers from both countries said on Monday after a meeting in Athens.
Interior Minister Nicos Nouris met with Greek Minister of Migration and Asylum, Notis Mitarachi to discuss ways of managing the crisis.
“Greece and Cyprus face common challenges in managing migration, being at the forefront of pressure from the East,” Mitarachi said.
The two countries’ delegations are set to hold two-day consultations on the matter.
“We will discuss how we can better manage this situation, how we can effectively defend Europe’s borders,” Mitarachi said. He added they would also exchange experiences and best practices in matters of border protection, reception, asylum and integration.
Nouris reiterated that Cyprus “has unfortunately come to record an undesirable top spot in the last four years, with the percentage of asylum seekers approaching four per cent of the population of our semi-occupied homeland.”
He added that both countries are called to deal with the migrant flows channelled from Turkey and raised the lack of solidarity by their EU partners as regards Ankara’s actions.
“This tolerance cannot be continued,” Nouris said.
Mitarachi said that they would also discuss how to achieve better results at negotiations at European level of the new Immigration and Asylum Pact.
“Both countries have expressed concern about what the pact so far provides, the imbalance between the increased responsibilities of states at the external borders and the limited solidarity of the other member states,” he said.
The new Pact on Migration and Asylum, proposed by the European Commission, aims at a comprehensive European approach to migration. The Commission argued that it sets out improved and faster procedures throughout the asylum and migration system and fair sharing of responsibility and solidarity.
Mitarachi said the issue would also be discussed on March 20 by the competent ministers of all frontline Mediterranean countries – Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Malta, and Greece – in a meeting in Athens.