Turkish Cyprus urges Greek side to cooperate on migrant crisis | Daily Sabah – Daily Sabah
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on Monday urged the Greek Cypriot administration to cooperate on the issue of irregular migration.
“At the crossroads of three continents, the island of Cyprus is not immune to irregular migration. Both the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Greek Cypriot administration of southern Cyprus receive irregular immigration from various countries,” said a statement from the TRNC's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Contrary to the Greek Cypriot side, our country is devoid of international assistance and struggling with irregular migration only with the support of motherland Turkey,” it added.
The statement said the issue of irregular migration should be addressed within the spirit of cooperation and requires joint efforts with a sense of responsibility and solidarity from the international community.
“We would like to take this opportunity to renew, once again, our proposal for cooperation on irregular migration, which poses a significant challenge to all of us,” it added.
Greek Cyprus says it has the highest number of first-time asylum applications among all 27 EU members, relative to its population of roughly 1.1 million. Interior Minister Nicos Nouris has told EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson that the country can't host more asylum-seekers “due to the severe burden” on its reception system.
At an EU Asylum Support Office conference in Malta last month, Nouris said Greek Cyprus is “obliged to take significant and drastic” measures along the buffer zone, adding that about 800 migrants crossed it recently within a 10-day span. Nouris added that 15,000 migrants have had their asylum applications rejected but can't be deported because there's no coherent EU policy – or agreement with their home countries – on sending them back.
Cyprus has been mired in a decadeslong dispute between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the United Nations to achieve a comprehensive settlement.
Ethnic attacks starting in the early 1960s forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety.
In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at Greece's annexation of the island led to Turkey's military intervention as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence.
The TRNC was founded in 1983. It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including a failed 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the U.K.
The Greek Cypriot administration entered the European Union in 2004, the same year when Greek Cypriots thwarted a U.N.-led plan to end the dispute.