Cypriot Government to Tackle Illegal Immigration
Nicosia, Aug 29 - A package of proposals to tackle illegal immigration in Cyprus will be submitted by the government to the European Commission (EC), Minister of Justice and Public Order Kypros Chrysostomides announced on Friday.
Invited to comment on a Commission report on the Green Line Regulation, which has been in force since 1 May 2004, Mr. Chrysostomides said he was pleased that the report quoted the relevant figures correctly and accurately.
"Almost 99% of illegal immigrants reach the southern government-controlled areas of the Republic through the demarcation line," he said, noting that a large number of immigrants come through the two British military bases in Cyprus.
The Minister explained that stricter surveillance of the line could hamper communication between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities, stressing that "the government is in favor of free communication between the two communities".
The Minister added that 5,710 out of 5,844 of illegal immigrants crossed to the government controlled part of the country through the demarcation line between May 1, 2007 and April 30th this year.
The report, he continued, notes that Turkey, whose troops occupy Cyprus's northern areas since they invaded in 1974, must take measures to contain the problem.
The Minister also mentioned that it is very difficult to monitor a separation line of such great length.
According to the Commission report, the Green Line Regulation continues to provide a workable basis for allowing the passage of persons and goods to the government-controlled areas of the Republic of Cyprus but the high number of illegal immigrants crossing the Line remains of concern.
It notes that in the reporting period, the total number of detected (or apprehended) illegal immigrants doubled, reaching the highest level ever.
The Commission is also of the opinion that the surveillance of the Line between the crossing points conducted by the Republic of Cyprus and the Sovereign British Base Area Administration needs substantial strengthening without delay.
But it notes that "however, the Republic of Cyprus remains reluctant to take any measure which possibly could lead to the Line taking on the appearance of an external border."