The Swedish government on Tuesday refuted the Cypriot interior ministry’s claim it had offered “significant support” for the plan to declare parts of Syria safe.

The interior ministry had claimed on Monday that Minister Constantinos Ioannou’s position “received significant support” among his EU counterparts, with “member states such as Greece, Austria and Sweden in their own interventions agreeing on the need to adopt a new political stance on the issue.”

However, a spokesperson for Sweden’s EU Affairs minister denied the claim to the Cyprus Mail, describing it as a “misunderstanding”.

“We have heard similar proposals raised but it is not something that Sweden has taken a position on,” the spokesperson added.

The Cyprus Mail also attempted to contact the Greek migration ministry but received no response, while the Austrian interior ministry said they would investigate the matter.

The Cypriot government’s claim that parts of Syria are safe is based on indications made regarding the provinces of Damascus and Tartus by the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA).

Tartus is a port city located around 160 kilometres east of Cape Greco. The EUAA said “there is, in general, no risk” of “believing that the person would face a real risk of suffering serious harm” should they be returned there.

On Damascus, Syria’s capital, the EUAA concluded that “in general there is no real risk” of harm, but “individual elements always need to be taken into account as they could put [someone] in risk-enhancing situations.”

However, while Tartus as a port city is accessible by sea, Damascus is landlocked and surrounded by places which are decidedly unsafe.

Land routes between the port of Tartus and Damascus all pass through Homs, where, according to the EUAA, “indiscriminate violence is taking place.” Routes into Damascus from Jordan in the south all pass through the Dar’a governorate, where, the EUAA says, individuals would “solely on account of their presence on its territory face a real risk” of violence.

In addition, Damacus airport is located outside Damascus in the Rif Dimashq governorate, which the EUAA says is the scene of “indiscriminate violence.”