Based on my family’s experiences going back 100+ years, I had to look in a mirror before writing about asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants. As a compassionate human being and as a president, I seek fairness under international law, without Cyprus being taken advantage of. Let’s not forget many countries opened their doors to Cypriots in 1974 fleeing the Turkish invasion. And I’m sure they would do so again in the horrible disaster scenarios I wrote about previously.
There are two extreme public viewpoints: those who wish to greet migrants with open arms out of compassion, and a minority who would physically hurt them and remove them from Cyprus at gunpoint if the law allowed.
If a luxury cruise ship found a family hanging off a sinking boat, human decency and the international laws of the sea would mean they would be rescued, accommodated, and fed. However, it would be absurd for the rescued family to expect to live on the cruise ship for several years, demand a cabin upgrade with a sea view, or tell the captain where they should disembark.
Based on my family’s history, I have absolute sympathy for those fleeing persecution or wars. However, this is an EU-wide problem which can only be resolved at an EU level. Cyprus is too small to cope with thousands of refugees. We can share the burden with the EU for humanitarian reasons and international law, but not at the detriment of our own citizens who also need medical care, welfare, and housing. In fact, most migrants would rather live in the larger EU countries and the UK.
I also have some sympathy for those seeking a better life as economic migrants; however, they cannot move to countries illegally, nor expect EU countries to pay for welfare benefits.
I have no sympathy whatsoever with ‘refugees’ who lie about their status, such as pretending they are unaccompanied minors when they are not. Or those that falsely state their country of origin. They should be repatriated at the first opportunity for illegally entering Cyprus.
My solution to asylum and migrant questions is for the EU to jointly find answers and fund them as this is an EU-wide problem. I believe an independent non-EU body should deal with eligibility and where accepted applicants should live. While the ones in Cyprus are being processed for eligibility, the EU can feasibly pay Turkey to pay ‘TRNC’ to look after them. No refugee could seriously argue they are in danger by being housed in the occupied territories. In parallel, subject to an in-depth study and legal opinions, is to invite able-bodied asylum seekers receiving state aid while being processed (not in detention) to work part-time for our community without pay as volunteers. Why wouldn’t they? If I was rescued off a sinking boat, I’d gladly help the crew without being asked.
The above should not apply to those who are temporarily fleeing a natural or man-made disaster, such as the hundreds of thousands that were forced to flee Ukraine due to the Russian invasion.
If my radical solution to the Cyprus problem can be negotiated (subject to referenda), Turkey and ‘TRNC’ will not be able to ‘dump’ asylum seekers south of the UN buffer zone, or weaponize them.0