President of Cyprus calls on EU to explore safe zones in Syria for refugees

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The European Union won't service its ain champion interests if it doesn’t see designating immoderate parts of Syria arsenic safe zones truthful refugees and migrants tin return there, nan president of Cyprus said Monday.

President Nikos Christodoulides said Cyprus is moving pinch like-minded EU personnel nations to commencement a chat astir that extremity successful bid to thief alleviate nan unit that Mediterranean countries receiving nan astir refugees and migrants are under.

"I don’t see not discussing nan business wrong Syria arsenic an due action for nan European Union," Christodoulides said aft talks with Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

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"The Cyprus Republic, successful practice pinch different personnel states which stock this approach, is moving toward initiating a chat wrong nan European Union astir nan Syria situation," he said.

In his astir candid remarks connected migration to date, Christodoulides said he acknowledges nan "sensitivities" that immoderate EU countries person connected nan rumor but that nan bloc "must address" whether immoderate parts of Syria are safe capable for migrants to return.

"There are areas successful Syria successful which we must analyse whether they are safe and by extension, alteration nan return of migrants from those circumstantial areas," he said.

Although 37% less migrants reached Cyprus past year, charismatic figures show migrant arrivals by vessel from Syria and Lebanon accrued 355% - 4,259 successful 2023 arsenic compared to 937 successful 2022.

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Christodoulides thanked Steinmeier, nan first German president to sojourn Cyprus, for his country's determination to voluntarily judge 1,000 asylum-seekers from Cyprus. Steinmeier said done a translator that Germany understands nan load that Cyprus is nether from people-smuggling.

Cypriot Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou said earlier this period that nan overwhelming mostly of those arriving to Cyprus by oversea are Syrians who person fallen prey to people-smuggling rings successful Syria and Lebanon.

He said an statement was successful spot for nan much progressive engagement of EU law enforcement agency Europol successful helping to bust specified smuggling rings, while Cypriot authorities person group up a dedicated portion to augment policing and patrols.

Ioannou said asylum applications successful Cyprus dropped by 46% successful 2023 while repatriations and voluntary departures accrued by 66%. Overall, Cyprus recorded immoderate 10,991 migrant arrivals past year, immoderate 6,447 less than successful 2022.