Cyprus Mail

Barbed wire and border guards an outdated policy, says presidential candidate

Lawyer Achilleas Demetriades

Presidential candidate Achilleas Demetriades on Tuesday blasted the current government’s approach to the escalating problem of illegal immigration and asylum seekers.

In a statement, Demetriades said that asylum applications dating back from 2017 now number 35,000 and that the Anastasiades government has refused to explain how we got to this point.

Pointing to the alarming state of backlog, according to official data showing that until the first half of 2022 27,000 applications were awaiting examination and a further 8,000 pending a final decision, Demetriades said government inaction is to blame.

“A file can take two or even three years to be examined. Where are the basic EU principles for fast, fair and efficient examination?” Demetriades asked.

Elsewhere Demetriades slammed the government’s decision to install barbed wire along the ceasefire line saying that this is “yet another example of a misguided policy” as is the decision to hire 300 armed border guards, which he claims turns the green line into a hard border.

“The EU does not approve misguided, contradictory and outdated policies, it does not pay for fences and ‘border guards’. This is all borne by the Cypriot taxpayer,” Demetriades said.

He proposed five measures to improve the situation regarding illegal immigration to the island, including the replacement of border guard recruitment with the hiring of trained staff, who can expedite the asylum application process with a three-month turn around, thereby minimising abuse of services.

Clearing the 27,000 backlogged applications, Demetriou said, should go in tandem with support and supervision from the European Agency for Asylum (EUAA) and those entitled to protection should join integration programmes for work placement in sectors where the economy needs them, backed by language learning.

Additionally, Demetriades advocated for strengthening the return of ineligible immigrants to their countries through a clear choice of offering immediate, voluntary return with a financial incentive that diminishes over time.

“The […] measures I propose are fully in line with EU policies and will be co-financed by the European Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund. With appropriate actions, they can be financed 100 per cent from emergency aid, as long as Cyprus proves that it is a reliable country,” Demetriades claimed.

He also mentioned the need to strengthen housing infrastructure for immigrants to make it sustainable and the creation of a joint Greek and Turkish Cypriot committee for control of arrivals.


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