Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou unveiled on Thursday “a grand plan” aimed at helping migrants integrate in Cyprus.

He outlined the plan contains 50 points of action based on five envisioned pillars: housing, employment, skill improvement, education, and health.

Presenting the action plan at the interior ministry, Ioannou said it would be submitted to the relevant ministries for approval, and they would submit their opinions within 15 days. The plan would then go out for public consultation.

The goal is that by the end of March, the plan would be submitted to cabinet for approval.

It is understood details will be made public once the action plans are no longer subject to any revisions.

“One of the key pillars for effective management of the migration issue… is the smooth integration and inclusion of legal migrants in the economy and society of our country, as a result of our European and international obligations as a country,” Ioannou said.

This is “in addition to the actions taken to prevent irregular flows such as increasing returns and improving infrastructure.”

Describing the proposal as a “grand plan”, Ioannou added that the action plans would be coordinated with other ministries such as the education ministry and deputy welfare ministry.

The minister specified that the integration of migrants ranks high in the EU’s and UNHCR’s priorities.

He added that when he visited Geneva and met with Gillian Triggs, the assistant High Commissioner for Protection at the UNHCR, he briefed her over Cyprus’ plan.

“There were concerns over the matter, where Cyprus’ commitments and actions are concerned,” Ioannou underscored.

Nonetheless, Triggs was satisfied over the government’s actions on integrating migrants in Cyprus’ society and economy, Ioannou said.

Responding to a question over the EU deal on hosting migrants earlier this week, Ioannou specified the important aspect of the agreement “is that solidarity between states in handling migration is now recognised.”

He explained that in times of crisis, such as those which unfolded in 2015-2016, there will be relocations and assistance from other countries.

“Also, through the recognition of mandatory solidarity between countries, it is envisaged that frontline and host countries such as Cyprus in cases where there are disproportionate numbers of migrants, will be able to proceed with relocations,” he added.

“The ideal scenario would be for these relocations to be mandatory. Unfortunately, they are not. Member states have the option that instead of accepting legal migrants to settle in their country, they can pay an amount set at €20,000 per person,” the Minister of Foreign Affairs noted. “We will also have to see exactly how the mechanism will work for about 100,000 people a year for all member states, how the sharing between states will be done, and so on,” he specified.

“For Cyprus, the ideal thing would be to make relocations compulsory, because it is not a question of financial assistance, since we as a country that already receives financial support from the EU,” Ioannou stressed.