Cyprus is among the top EU countries in terms of the absolute number of returns/deportations of irregular migrants, Interior Minister, Constantinos Ioannou, said on Wednesday, noting that, in September for yet another month, the balance of arrivals and returns was positive.

In statements after the Council of Ministers meeting, referring to his recent participation in the MED5 Summit in Thessaloniki, where the immigration issue was discussed among the European member states of the front line, Ioannou said that at a meeting with his counterparts from Greece, Spain, Malta and Italy, the common understanding on how to deal with migration flows was reaffirmed. He added that “the ideal scenario for all five countries would be mandatory relocations, which is currently not feasible”.

The Minister welcomed the new EU Crisis Regulation and the fact that instrumentalisation of the migration issue was now recognised.

He noted that this was important for Cyprus, noting that Nicosia was aware of the instrumentalisation of the migration issue by Turkey with regard to Cyprus.

Ioannou also said that during the Summit “it was recognised that Cyprus is the number one in returns in Europe at the moment” adding that, Cyprus, “has the most successful returns programme”.

He said that in September 750 arrivals were recorded compared with more than about 850 returns of irregular migrants.

“For another month the balance was positive”, the Minister said, explaining that deportations were very low in the rest of the countries.

Cyprus, “in absolute numbers is one of the top EU countries”, he said, noting that it was congratulated by Vice-President of the European Commission Margaritis Schinas and the other Ministers participating in the Summit, “for the very successful programme, which we have strengthened in recent months”.

He said that, to-date, 7,500 migrants have left Cyprus, while less than 7,500 have left Italy, which has received 120,000 migrants.

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