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21-01-2022 17:46

Statement by the Minister of Interior Mr. Nicos Nouris at the Press Conference of the Conference on Border Management, in Lithuania

Allow me first to thank the organizers, especially the Minister of Lithuania, for the hospitality. I wish to thank my counterparts for giving me this opportunity to present the challenges faced by a small country, Cyprus; a country that does not have a border with other countries and that does not belong to the Schengen area, and yet faces the same challenges as other front-line member states. And this is an exceptional situation.

We have seen today in practice a well-organized effort by EU MS to find ways to safeguard the security and the effective management of our external borders. As a front-line MS, Cyprus, we welcome such efforts and we stand by Lithuania.

At the same time, we welcome Europe's effective and coordinated response to the hybrid attack against the EU, orchestrated by the Lukashenko regime, through the instrumentalization of migrants. Cyprus, unfortunately, faces the same threat from Turkey and requests that the EU responds with the same determination to end this unacceptable and dangerous behaviour.

Over the past 5 years, Cyprus has consistently been the Member State with the highest number of first-time applications for international protection in relation to its population size. Only in 2021, the illegal arrivals amount to 13,235 people, with more than 85% of applicants for international protection arriving directly from Turkey, or through the areas which are not under the effective control of the government of the Republic of Cyprus.

I am pleased that my counterparts, understanding the problems faced by Cyprus, expressed their solidarity through the joint statement, clearly indicating the way in which the Green Line should be managed effectively, although it does not constitute an external border.

The irregular migration problem can be tackled effectively by reducing migration flows, speeding up asylum procedures and increasing returns. This is vital and this is what we want to discuss during the French Presidency.

We, therefore, call on the EU to negotiate joint actions with third countries, supported operationally by the EU Agencies, with the aim to prevent, primary and secondary flows to the EU and to implement more efficient returns. This is the way that we have to treat the problem. This is the way we have to treat migration.

 I once again thank Lithuania for hosting this venue.