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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 10-10-30

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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    Belgian State Secretary for Migration and Asylum Policy Melchior Wathelet has said that Cyprus has the biggest number of asylum seekers in the EU, in relation to its population.

    Speaking after talks with Interior Minister Neoklis Sylikiotis, Wathelet said that Cyprus, since it joined the EU in May 2004, has to deal with much bigger challenges than in the past.

    He thanked Nicosia for its support of a common asylum system by 2012 and for backing the relevant EU law, adding that these matters are priority issues for the six monthly EU rotating presidency which Belgium now holds.

    Cyprus, he said speaking through an interpreter, has undertaken many responsibilities and adopted measures to accelerate the asylum procedures for different categories of asylum seekers.

    The Belgian official also said that he expects that the forthcoming EU ministerial justice and home affairs council will discuss solidarity among member states and distribution of burdens on asylum issues.

    In his remarks to the press after his talks, the Cypriot Minister said the EU must respond and draft a common policy area of protection and solidarity among its members, adding that EU asylum policy must be accompanied by the practical application of the principles of solidarity and equal distribution of responsibilities when it comes to asylum seekers.

    Sylikiotis said asylum applications have dwindled in the past few years, noting that the challenge Cyprus is facing today is the big number of recognized political refugees.

    Cyprus needs EU financial support and support in the implementation of its policies, he added.

    Cyprus, which has been divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion, faces a big problem with asylum seekers, many of whom are filtered through the northern Turkish occupied areas to the southern government controlled part of the country.

    Peace talks are currently underway between the islands two communities in a bid to find a negotiated settlement to reunite the country.


    Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou believes that the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Mevlut Cavusoglu, is acting in accordance with his capacity as PACE President as far as his visit to Cyprus is concerned. Cavusoglu, a Turkish national, whose country does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus and continues to occupy the countrys northern areas since its troops invaded, arrives on the island Sunday for a two-day visit, at the invitation of the President of the House of Representatives.

    Cavusoglu is behaving as protocol dictates and will be visiting Cyprus in his capacity as PACE President, the Foreign Minister said, replying to press questions. The visit is sending an indirect message to the head of Turkeys accession negotiations with the EU Egemen Bagis that the Republic of Cyprus exists and it is recognised internationally and in particular within the European institutions, the Minister pointed out, in response to Bagis remarks earlier this week in Brussels with which he denied the existence of Cyprus and said he did not know of any such state.

    Bagis offensive comments about Cyprus forced Cypriot, Greek and other Euro MPs to walk out of an EU-Turkey meeting earlier this week. Cypriot Euro MPs demanded that Bagis retracts his statements. Cyprus has said it supports Turkeys European aspirations to join the Union, provided Ankara meets all its obligations to Brussels, including normalizing relations with Nicosia and opening its ports and airports to Cypriot flagged ships and aircraft.


    Cyprus, Greece and the entire European Union must harden their position towards Turkey, House President Marios Garogian has said, in response to offensive remarks by Turkeys chief EU negotiator questioning the existence of the Republic of Cyprus. I have said very clearly that we have to harden our position towards Turkey and I call on Greece and all EU member states to follow suit, he said.

    The comments made by Turkeys chief negotiator Egemen Bagis in Brussels essentially send the message that it is not Turkey that wants to join the EU but the other way round. Turkey, he pointed out, can no longer rely on our tolerance. Ankara must get a crystal clear message that its vision about joining the EU or getting closer to the Union must be abandoned, it this is the way it is going to behave, he stressed.

    Bagis offensive comments about Cyprus forced Cypriot, Greek and other Euro MPs to walk out of an EU-Turkey meeting earlier this week. Cypriot Euro MPs demanded that Bagis retracts his statements. Turkey, whose troops occupy Cyprus` northern part, does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus.

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