Cyprus has the highest percentage of asylum seekers in the EU in relation to its population, which has reached 4%, Government Spokesperson Kyriacos Koushos said on Wednesday, noting that Turkey is sending migrant flows to the country in a coordinated manner.
In statements after a Cabinet meeting, at the Presidential Palace, Koushos said that the migration problem is a matter of substance for the government, stressing that migratory flows arriving in Cyprus are the greatest in the entire EU.
“We are the only country in which the percentage of asylum seekers has reached 4% of its population,” he noted, adding that “in all other European countries this percentage does not exceed 1%.” This is a matter of importance, he said, particularly during a period when Turkey is trying to have a so called positive agenda with the EU.
Koushos recalled that the migration problem is part of the discussions between the EU and Turkey and recalled the EU-Turkey agreement of 2016 on the return of irregular immigrants which Cyprus cannot enforce as Turkey does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus.
One should look at the matter in its correct perspective, the Government Spokesperson said, adding that Cyprus does not have adequate infrastructure to accommodate such a large number of asylum seekers, but that it is criticised because it is unable to manage this flow “that Turkey sends us in a coordinated and targetted manner.”
Koushos further pointed out that if one were to observe the characteristics of the people arriving in Cyprus, they would see that the majority are single, aged 25 – 35 and without a family.
“This matter should be a source of particular concern, as well as the financial cost to the Republic of Cyprus,” he said, adding it follows that citizens who are in need are deprived of that money.
He noted that at the same time it has to do with the demographic change in the island. A number of interconnected issues arise for the Republic of Cyprus, he added.