Cyprus calls for coordinated action at the EU level to deal with a possible new influx of refugees as a result of the war between Hamas and Israel, Interior Minister, Constantinos Ioannou, said during the first day of the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting in Luxembourg.

According to a press release, during the discussion on the war between Hamas and Israel, the Cypriot Interior Minister stressed the need for coordinated action by the EU to deal with possible refugee flows to Member States, and called on the Commission to elaborate and submit a concrete management plan at European level that provides for specific actions that respond to the magnitude of the possible crisis that will arise.

He also expressed concerns that if the flows cannot be contained and refugees from neighbouring countries cannot be adequately accommodated, Cyprus could face increased pressures, in addition to those arising from existing arrivals from Syria, Lebanon and Turkey.

During the discussion on the external dimension of migration, the Cypriot Interior Minister stressed the importance of substantially upgrading the EU’s relations with regional partners on the basis of mutually beneficial frameworks of cooperation and measurable results.

He added that third countries in the European neighbourhood should act as pillars of stability and suggested initiating the process towards signing a cooperation agreement between Frontex and Lebanon as well as Frontex and Egypt.

In a meeting with the director of the European Union Agency for Asylum, Nina Gregori, in the margins of the Council, Ioannou discussed the measures taken in Cyprus for the effective management of the migration issue. Ioannou expressed Cyprus’ concerns regarding Syria due to the country‚Äôs proximity to the region, and the extent to which Cyprus is affected by the continuous flows from Syria and Lebanon, without having tools at its disposal to be able to manage them.

In this context, he reiterated the need to reopen the discussion on the assessment of the region in order to ensure the possibility of targeted returns as far as that is possible, under terms and conditions appropriate to the situation in Syria.

Finally, in the framework of the meeting of the Interior Ministers, the Commission presented the Action Plan for the management of migration flows in the Eastern Mediterranean, the adoption of which was announced on Wednesday.

During the discussion, Ioannou stressed the importance of the Action Plan for Cyprus and expressed satisfaction that it included measures that had been requested by the country. He also stressed the need for practical implementation of what is recorded in the plan and called on the Commission and the European External Action Service to take immediate initiatives in this direction.

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