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Cyprus urges solidarity to join Schengen Area

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Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis called on her EU counterparts to show more solidarity to expedite the accession evaluation process for Schengen Area candidates after Cyprus’ entry was put on ice.

Yiolitis called for more active cooperation with countries at the forefront of irregular migration flows to Europe.

She reminded EU ministers, “more solidarity should be shown to the frontline member states, such as Cyprus, which are facing intense migratory pressures at their external borders”.

Attending the Justice and Home Affairs Council in Luxembourg, she argued for a more resilient and inclusive Schengen area.

Cyprus is not ready to enter the Schengen Area, said Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson at last week’s presentation of the package for strengthening the EU’s free movement zone.

The commissioner said Cyprus “is not yet in a position to be evaluated, therefore “not considered ready to enter the Schengen Area”.

Cyprus is among seven EU states outside the Schengen Area.

“Not all member states are Schengen states, EU Schengen states may reintroduce internal border controls in response to serious public policy or security threats,” said Yiolitis in Luxembourg.

“The aim should not be to create a tight fortress of well-protected core member states, intrinsically linking Schengen to migration flows and reintroducing border control to curb migration goes against the Schengen acquis.

“What we must do, what the aim must be, is to intensify the evaluation process so as to include as many Schengen candidate countries as possible and to encourage police Cooperation and Security Management across the entire block.

“And this is most important for front line first arrival countries, like Cyprus, with a very disproportionate burden of incoming migration flows.

“Member states must remember that internal border controls, even when justified, must be temporary, they must be proportionate, and they must be a measure of last resort.

“I remind you that Cyprus is the only EU country to be under illegal occupation.

“It is a front arrival state”, she said, “and it is still a Schengen candidate.

“So, strengthening internal border controls of Schengen while frontline countries remain Schengen candidates only acts punitively for such first arrival states which more than ever need the solidarity of their fellow member states.

“We need to put forward a mechanism that genuinely fosters cooperation and that can respond effectively to humanitarian crises.

“The EU is a family of member states, and each member state needs to remember that it is only as safe, as protected, as free as its fellow states.”