EU leaders call for action on migration control in East Med

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A special European Council held in Brussels included a call to the Commission to deliver an action plan for managing the Eastern Mediterranean migration route, which puts Cyprus on the frontline.

The demand was added in the conclusions following a request by President Nicos Anastasiades, government spokesperson Marios Pelekanos said in a statement on Friday.

Pelekanos said leaders of the EU27 discussed migration management, the economy, developments in Russia’s war against Ukraine and EU support to Kiyv in the presence of President Zelensky.

“The discussion on migration management focused on the external dimension of the problem, and joint action and cooperation with third countries of origin and transit, to prevent irregular arrivals and to increase returns of those who are not entitled to protection,” Pelekanos said.

He added that the leaders also discussed ways to prevent weaponising irregular migration and people trafficking.

“President Anastasiades presented evidence highlighting the unbearable pressure our country is facing due to Turkey’s continuing instrumentalisation of migration”.

Cyprus says it’s on the frontline of irregular migration into the bloc through the East Med, and a record 6% of its population are asylum applicants.

Anastasiades also insisted on including in the conclusions a call to the European Commission to present as a matter of priority an Action Plan for the Eastern Mediterranean, similar to ones for the Western Balkans and Central Mediterranean routes.

“This Action Plan will include holistic operational and diplomatic actions, aiming at a rapid and effective reduction of flows and mitigating pressures on affected Member States, including the Republic of Cyprus,” said Pelekanos.

President Anastasiades also expressed his full support to conclude negotiations on the Immigration and Asylum Pact, which should strike a balance between the principles of responsibility and solidarity.

Also, during the discussion on the EU’s response to the devastating earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria, President Anastasiades “expressed deep sorrow personally, but also on behalf of the Cypriot people, for the hundreds of deaths caused by the strong earthquake in Turkey and Syria, which include a number of our fellow Turkish Cypriot citizens.”

“Anastasiades informed his counterparts that the Republic of Cyprus has expressed its readiness to send a rescue team to Turkey to assist in efforts to rescue survivors trapped in the rubble.”