Cyprus wants to see solidarity from EU partners through actions on the migration crisis, President Nikos Christodoulides told 26 EU ambassadors to the island on Friday.
Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou spoke to reporters about the meeting after Christodoulides’ briefing at the presidential palace.
The meeting was centered around the migration crisis and its severity in Cyprus, as well the state’s eagerness to implement an Eastern Mediterranean action plan.
According to Ioannou, ambassadors were presented with statistics detailing for instance that in the past seven years there has been a 490 per cent increase in illegal migrant arrivals, 95 per cent of which enters areas of the Republic through the Green Line.
Ambassadors also heard of Cyprus’ view that Turkey instrumentalises the migration crisis, as well as the fact that six per cent of the Republic’s population is comprised of asylum seekers or individuals with protected status. This figure was compared to other EU member states whose percentage is at one per cent or lower, Ioannou said.
“Everyone expresses solidarity. We want this solidarity to be proved in action,” he told reporters.
While the minister said he believed there is support as Cyprus receives financial and technical support, in light of Turkey’s actions “sending illegal migrants to Cyprus, we’re aiming for more practical measures.”
He added a campaign will begin through the government’s press and information office aimed to tackle misinformation disseminated to countries where a large number of migrants come from. This could mean for instance correcting the perception that Cyprus is a Schengen country or that people can grab a train and head to Germany from the island.
Ioannou highlighted the government is investing a lot in the voluntary return scheme where the aim is by June 800 to 1,000 people per month will be leaving the country, either through voluntary returns or by being expelled.