Commissioner Margaritis Schinas on Sunday visited the Green Line in Athienou area and had the opportunity to see with his own eyes the situation with migrant influxes that Cyprus is faced with in the past months. A great number of migrants mostly from African countries arrive via Turkey to the occupied areas and from there they pass in the Cyprus Republic. Cyprus has repeatedly asked EU`s assistance to deal with the flows. On Monday Schinas and Interior Minister Nicos Nouris will sign an MoU between the EU and the Cyprus government on operational assistance at the Presidential Palace in the presence of President Nicos Anastasiades.

On Sunday Schinas and the Minister visited Athienou and in statements that followed the Commissioner noted that he always believed that one can better comprehend the migration crisis being on the field where the problem exists, talking to people who are affected. He said that he previously visited Moria camp in Greece and the Lithuanian border and today he is here at the Green Line and what he sees is shocking.

He noted that the Green Line is not an external border of the EU and Cyprus as a small member state cannot deal with the issue of migration. Schinas said that the visit today sends a message that we need to act and we need to draft an action plan which must include the causes of the problem, the situation in the Turkish coastline and on the ground from where these people depart.

The Commissioner said that in March he will be visiting Turkey and he will discuss the matter. He noted that Cyprus needs to receive EU funding to deal with the influxes and also ways need to be found for the return of all those who do not have the right to be in EU soil.

He noted how important the signing of the MoU tomorrow is adding that he wishes to stay optimistic that it will be a new beginning in assising the Republic of Cyprus and the local communities.

The Commissioner said once again that EU cannot be a firefighter running after a crisis each time it occurs but rather needs to build a strong framework that will deal with the issue in a comprehensive and holistic way. He praised the efforts made by the French Presidency of the EU and asked Cyprus to have a leading role in the discussions underway.

Replying to a question Schinas refuted that EU follows double standards and added that in Belarus there is an EU external border and a hybrid threat with 20-25,000 people being moved to enter EU. He noted Cyprus` particularities which dictate for a particular approach. He said that no magic solutions exist and no button can be pushed to resolve the issue but noted once again that Europe needs to have a common migration policy.

He also said that Turkey and other neighbouring states need to understand that they have to work with the EU and cooperate because they also will gain if they do so.

Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said that Schinas` visit is the height of visits by EU officials to the island with migration on the agenda. He said once again that Cyprus is faced with many challenges and as frontline state receives the biggest number of migrants in population ratio. He said that burden is huge and EU needs to offer support.

Nouris said that Green Line is an open wound for Cyprus and the migration flows and daily tens of illegal migrants pass to the Cyprus Republic . He added that EU must support Cyprus in handling the situation with the Green Line clarifying that this is not an external border however what we seek is measures in place to combat illegal migration.

Nouris said that FRONTEX needs to patrol Turkey`s coastline from where boats with illegal migrants depart and a FRONTEX officer needs to be stationed at Istanbul airport to check flights to the illegal airport in the occupied areas which carry mostly illegal migrants from sub Saharan Africa.

The Interior Minister said that Turkey uses migration as an instrument against the EU and this is the reason Cyprus seeks support in European level to deal with the influxes from the Green Line. He also praised the efforts made which led to the MoU to be signed tomorrow.

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