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Cyprus demands EU solidarity on migrants

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Cyprus needs European solidarity to face the burden of migration, Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said after the MED5 meeting in Venice.

Cyprus is among five European Union nations on the Mediterranean, demanding an end to the EU’s “voluntary” solidarity on migrants and a better way to redistribute the burden of managing them.

Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said at the MED5 in Venice that for the fifth consecutive year, Cyprus has the largest migration burden and needs the solidarity of its European partners.

The Interior ministers from Italy, Cyprus, Greece, Malta and Spain wrapped up two days of talks in Venice at the weekend amid worries the blockade of Ukraine grain exports due to Russia’s invasion could see huge numbers of refugees from Africa flooding southern Europe.

The MED5 are working together and joining forces to get more help from Brussels.

“All efforts are founded on the need for solidarity”, said Nouris.

He called for an effective and sound European policy to address Europe’s problems today.

“Solidarity is not a slogan, nor can it be void of substance,” Nouris said.

“Solidarity in our mind cannot be voluntary.

“No state can manage the situation by itself, and Europe’s decisive support is required”.

He said this solidarity must be expressed tangibly with the immediate relocation of migrants from Cyprus.

Nouris argued Brussels needs to proceed with bilateral agreements on returns with more third countries.

“If all these simple but pivotal issues are not part of the new European Pact on Asylum and Migration, unfortunately, no agreement will be able to solve the problem, particularly considering that estimations refer to 150,000 new migrants arriving at the frontline states just for this year.”

Nouris said burden-sharing “is the only way to manage migration pressures effectively”.

Past EU policies in which EU countries could offer to receive some of the hundreds of thousands of migrants landing in Italy, Greece and other southern shores proved grossly inadequate.

Even though countries pledged to receive modest numbers of migrants rescued from smugglers’ unseaworthy boats, they didn’t follow through.

Nouris said after several years of Cyprus taking in migrants, asylum seekers are now 5% of the island nation’s population.