Friday, 10 December 2021 05:38

Slovenia’s Hojs warns of emerging migration crisis in Cyprus

While the situation on the Belarusian border is stabilising, the focus should shift to other hot spots such as Cyprus, Slovenian’s interior minister Aleš Hojs warned as EU home affairs ministers met in Brussels on Thursday (10 December).
The bloc plans to tackle the abuse of migration for political purposes as part of the planned reform of the Schengen Borders Code. Still, the European Commission delayed the presentation of its proposal from this week to next.Arriving for the Council meeting, Hojs noted the serious migration situation in Cyprus, the still “lively” Balkan migration routes and a large increase in asylum applications in Austria.

In the third week of November, the largest absolute number of those was recorded by Germany, Spain, Italy and Austria, but in terms of applications per capita, Cyprus is in the lead ahead of Austria and Slovenia. Most applicants come from Afghanistan and Syria.

Available statistics show instances of illegal crossings nearly doubling in Cyprus compared to the same period a year ago to roughly 9,800, from 5,300.

Hojs believes the European Commission should include Cyprus in the proposal allowing Poland, Lithuania and Latvia derogation from asylum rules in the event of hybrid threats. He said the Commission had neglected some member countries.

The Commission proposes that the three countries be allowed to extend the period to register asylum applications from between three and ten days to four weeks for six months.

Hojs today reiterated his support for EU funds to be used to finance physical obstacles on borders. Still, they said this should cover not just fences but a broader toolbox for border surveillance, including drones and video surveillance.

Today, the ministers are reviewing progress in talks on the new pact on migration. According to the expectations, no breakthrough will be reached under the Slovenian presidency as member states still disagree over the relocation of migrants.

On arriving for the meeting, Hojs also expressed optimism that the ministers will back conclusions on Croatia being prepared to join the Schengen zone as a required step before the decision on accession, taken by consensus.

The Slovenian presidency placed the issue on the agenda of today’s meeting. Meanwhile, the timing of the final decision is not clear yet.

“I’m optimistic. I believe any misgivings that two or three countries still had yesterday will be sorted out during this afternoon, which holds out the hope that we will adopt the decisions today,” said Hojs.