Cyprus believes there is an abuse of the EU asylum system and that some applicants falsely claim they are at risk from countries such as Syria, said Interior Minister Nicos Nouris.
In an interview with the Cyprus News Agency, the minister said fellow Mediterranean countries maintained a “coherent front” on migration.
He said people from countries deemed unsafe might lose their subsidiary protection status if proven to misuse the asylum system.
As a result, his ministry is considering re-examining the files of various nationals, including those from Syria.
“The MED5 Summit was able to ascertain, also through evidence provided by the Republic of Cyprus, that the system is misused by certain countries, which may be categorised as unsafe, but at the same time, it seems they are not unsafe, or at least they are not completely unsafe.
“As a result, asylum systems are subjected to exploitation by migrants from these countries who are afforded a complementary form of protection but in reality, are able to return to their country any time they want.”
Nouris was certain that some people would have to return once this review was launched.
“The Republic of Cyprus has done its homework before raising this issue,” he noted that a significant number of cases of people with international protection were re-examined.
“We found out that hundreds of them safely returned – some of them by aeroplane – to a specific country, deemed today as unsafe and later came back to Cyprus.
“Apparently, there is no danger if they can fly and then return to the Republic of Cyprus.”
The EU was notified that Cyprus is considering re-examining these files.
“If the case is substantiated, then these people will lose their subsidiary protection status and undergo a process of expulsion and will be returned.”
The minister noted that Cyprus is focused on countries with the mass influx, and Syria is one of them, but more countries may come under scrutiny.
Asked about a proposal by Cyprus concerning the possibility of modifying the asylum application mechanism so that asylum applications can be filed outside the EU, Nouris said that the issue was discussed during the MED5 Summit and will be raised again before the Home Affairs Council.
“We don’t want to see more people drowning in the sea; we don’t want to see more unaccompanied minors being exploited.
“This is why Cyprus proposes that migrants who wish to file an asylum application should do so in their country of origin or transit.
“These people will know in advance that upon arrival, they will get recognition as asylum seekers.
“Moreover, those with rejected applications will know there is absolutely no reason to pay smugglers.”
The Republic of Cyprus will raise the issue in front of fellow EU Ministers.