Cyprus wants the European Union – which has shut its borders to refugees and migrants, largely dumping the problem on Greece – to take some of those under protected status off the island and relocated to other countries in the bloc.
Cyprus’ Cypriot Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides is drafting a letter asking the EU to help deal with the migrant overload as other countries reneged on promises to help take some of the overload and the European Comissioner in charge of migrants and refugees, Greece’s Dimitris Avramopoulos, saying he can’t take them to court because it’s a political hot potato for him.
Petrides said it’s time to end the “disproportionate burden on Cyprus” by establishing a redistribution scheme for asylum seekers throughout EU member states.
“The aim is to stop, at least to some extent, the disproportionate burden on Cyprus,” he said, the Cyprus News Agency reported, with no indication there was a response as the EU has repeatedly ignored pleas, entreaties and demands to take refugees and migrants.
Petrides, who made the comments at a public event in Larnaca, defended Cyprus’ record in dealing with migrants and refugees who, compared to the hordes who go to Greece, shun the island despite its proximity to the Middle East and Turkey, where they first go, fleeing war and strife, in hopes of reaching more prosperous countries in the EU.
He said asylum seekers on the northern third of the island unlawfully occupied by Turkey since a 1974 invasion, have been showing up in droves at Ercan airport in the north and then crossing into the south.
“This is indeed an anomaly due to the occupation,” said Petrides, adding that, “We are a country in the European Union that cannot control our northern borders and Frontex cannot patrol as in other countries, we cannot take measures taken by other countries,” referring to the EU agency that is charged with guarding borders.
Last month, the minister described refugees and migration as “national issues both for Cyprus and Greece” adding that the two countries were working together on a joint policy proposal to share with EU counterparts and the Commission which he didn’t outline or give specifics.