Ioannou asks EU for surveillance of sea border with Lebanon
08:33 - 26 January 2024
Minister for the Interior Constantinos Ioannou reiterated the need for the EU to take action together with third countries for stricter border surveillance, especially regarding the maritime border with Lebanon following the death of a child on board a boat rescued by the authorities off the coast of Cyprus, in his interventions during an informal meeting in Brussels.
Ioannou reiterated the need to re-evaluate whether the return of Syrian refugees to the country should allowed, and emphasised the issue of returns in contacts with European officials.
According to a press release issued by the Ministry of Interior, Ioannou participated in the first day of the informal meeting of Interior and Justice Ministers held on Thursday in Brussels, in the framework of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU.
Ioannou stressed, in the light of Wednesday's incident, that there is a need for the EU to take action, in cooperation with the authorities of third countries, for stricter border surveillance, particularly in the case of Lebanon, and added that the intensification of actions to combat migrant smuggling networks is equally important.
Ioannou also said that Cyprus is in favour of a re-evaluation at EU level of the status of Syria as a “safe country” to which refugees and asylum seekers can be return, "based on the actual conditions prevailing in the country".
In the margins of the meeting, Ioannou held separate meetings with the Executive Director of the EU Asylum Agency (EUAA), Nina Gregori, and the Swedish Minister for Immigration, Maria Malmer Stenergard.
Ioannou and Gregori discussed the EUAA's new evaluation plan for Syria, which is expected to be completed by April. According to the statement, in view of the establishment of the new Deputy Ministry of Immigration, Gregori stressed the need for a smooth continuation of cooperation and the positive image Cyprus has been registering due to the recent progress in migration management.
In the discussion with the Swedish Minister, emphasis was placed on the issue of the management of Syrian migrants. According to the statement, the two ministers agreed on the need to find solutions at EU level to repatriate Syrians to areas of the country that are assessed as safe and in a way that ensures their safety, while Malmer Stenegrand said that Sweden is considering various options to create safe corridors, possibly also via other third countries.