AP NEWS

Cyprus seeks EU intelligence access for migrant screening

March 21, 2019
FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018 file photo, a migrant from Syria rests at a refugee camp in Kokkinotrimithia outside of Nicosia, Cyprus. Cyprus’ interior minister says he has asked the European Union for access to its security intelligence network in order to better screen arriving migrants. Constantinos Petrides said Thursday, March 21, 2019 that rising migrant arrival numbers - especially via the ethnically split island’s breakaway north - have made the situation “very difficult to manage.” (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, file)

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cyprus wants access to the European Union’s security intelligence network so it can screen arriving migrants more thoroughly for signs of radicalization by extremist groups, the Mediterranean island nation’s interior minister said Thursday.

Rising numbers of migrants enter ethnically divided Cyprus on its breakaway Turkish side to seek asylum in the internationally recognized Greek side in the south, creating a situation that Interior Minister called “more disconcerting” and “very difficult to manage.”

Petrides said monthly asylum applications have surpassed 1,000 so far this year. According to Cyprus’ Asylum Service, one-quarter of arriving migrants are from Syria, but significant numbers come from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Cameroon.

Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004, but only the south enjoys full membership benefits.

EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said after talks with Petrides on Thursday that Cypriot officials shed light on issues that he hadn’t known about, such as migrants using northern Cyprus as an entry point.

Officials from Europol, the EU’s asylum agency, and border and coast guard services will meet with authorities soon to determine how best to assist, Avramopoulos said

“Yes, Cyprus is coming under great pressure recently, but again I’d like to say that it’s not alone,” he said.