Cyprus Mail

Cyprus and Serbia sign agreement on disaster protection

Interior Minister Nicos Nouris in Belgrade with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vulin (PIO)

Cyprus and Serbia on Friday signed a cooperation agreement in the field of protection against disasters, with Interior Minister Nicos Nouris also taking the opportunity during his talks in Belgrade to brief his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vulin on the challenges Cyprus faces with irregular migration.

Speaking to the media in Belgrade, Nouris said the agreement was a first step in the further boosting of cooperation between the two ministries.

It covers assistance in the event of disasters with protection and rescue activities, the exchange of scientific and technical knowledge as well as the transfer of expertise, education and training of personnel and provision of rescue equipment.

Nouris said that during the talks, he had also followed up on a number of other issues which are part of bilateral relations, including irregular migration.

In recent year Cyprus has been experiencing an ongoing, systematic influx of irregular arrivals, with more than 70 per cent of asylum applicants arriving from Turkey and through the areas which are not under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus, he said.

During the first five months of 2021, around 4,000 people—the majority of them Syrian nationals – have illegally crossed the green line and applied for asylum, he added.

“This is why we are persistently as a country asking the EU to develop and implement a legally robust operation dedicated to the prevention of irregular migratory flows from Turkey before they reach Cyprus equivalent to the arrangement for Greece that is been included in the EU – Turkey Statement of 2016,” Nouris said.

Cyprus is also pushing for the establishment of a central return mechanism to be coordinated by the EU Commission for migrants who do not have a legal right to remain, he concluded.

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