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EU-Turkey agreement on immigration necessary, says Cyprus
2005-09-07 11:44:31

Larnaca, Sep 7 (CNA) -- Cyprus Interior Minister Andreas Christou has said that Nicosia wants the European Union to conclude an agreement with Turkey on illegal immigrantion, to ensure that Ankara eliminates and controls the trafficking of immigrants through its territory.

He also said the government had achieved important changes in 2004 and 2005 with regard to combatting illegal immigration and dealing with asylum seekers.

Christou was speaking at Larnaca airport prior to departure for Britain for the Informal Justice and Home Affairs Council, which will discuss the issues of immigration, illegal immigration and political asylum.

Responding to questions about illegal immigration in Cyprus, Christou said that ''we have achieved important things during 2004 and 2005,'' adding that despite this ''numbers continue to remain high''.

He reiterated that asylum seekers continue to pour into Cyprus' government controlled areas from the northern Turkish occupied part of the country.

''We want the EU to come to an agreement with Turkey, a candidate state, so that Ankara can eliminate and control the trafficking of these people through its territory,'' he said.

Replying to questions, Christou said that EU financial aid is given on asylum issues and on illegal immigration issues on a small scale.

Replying to another question, Christou said that the number of asylum seekers is not disproportionate to Cyprus' population in the sense that many people who apply for political asylum already live in Cyprus.

He explained that many of the applicants are students or employees and they suddenly decide to apply for asylum.

''They are obviously economic migrants who chose this method to extend their stay in Cyprus,'' he concluded.

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