Cyprus FM: Turkey encourages illegal immigration to Cyprus
Nicosia, Nov 5 (CNA) – The Republic of Cyprus is faced with illegal immigration, mainly due to the illegal entrance of immigrants through the Turkish occupied areas of the island, Foreign Minister George Iacovou has noted, adding that the problem touches other EU states as well.
Speaking at the informal meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the EU Mediterranean countries in Toulouse, Iacovou called upon his European counterparts to help end this Turkish policy.
“Illegal immigrants who come to Cyprus via Turkey and the occupied areas, come with the tolerance or even the encouragement of Turkey and the occupation regime in northern Cyprus. Turkey even refuses to take back Turkish nationals who have come to Cyprus in this way”, he underlined.
Iacovou explained that after the government had agreed the return of illegal immigrants back to Syria and Lebanon, the criminal networks have turned to Turkey, using it to transfer people through the occupied areas to the government controlled areas of Cyprus.
This does not constitute a problem only for Cyprus, but for the whole of Europe, since many of these asylum seekers aim to live later on in other EU countries, like Italy and Britain, he noted.
The Cypriot FM said that the measures taken by the government as well as the cooperation between Cyprus – Greece – Italy and Britain, have helped reduce the number of the asylum seekers in Cyprus in the past years, but due to Turkey, this number has increased again.
The informal meeting took place ahead of the Heads of States and Governments meeting of the Euro Mediterranean Cooperation to be held in Barcelona, November 28-29, that will discuss the prospect of promoting cooperation in the framework of the EuroMediterranean Cooperation and immigration issues.
The EU meeting also examined the economic and financing engagement of the EU for the Mediterranean after 2007, issues of security in the Mediterranean and associating the EuroMediterranean Cooperation with the rest of initiatives of the region.