Nikolas Ioannidis received the portfolio of the Deputy Ministry of Immigration

The confirmation ceremony of the first Deputy Minister of Immigration took place at the Presidential Palace

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The assurance ceremony of the first Deputy Minister of Immigration and International Protection of the Republic of Cyprus, Dr. Nikolas Ioannidis, took place today at the Presidential Palace, in the presence of the President of the Republic, Mr. Nikos Christodoulidis, and members of the Government.

Speaking during the ceremony, the President of the Republic said that "today marks the actual launch of the Ministry of Migration and International Protection, which we aspire to, among many other things, will contribute to the even more effective management of migration and refugee flows .

At the same time, we are implementing another important action of our governance program, in relation to a major issue with complex challenges and multiple specificities.

One issue, the migration and refugee crisis, which is testing many countries, especially in Europe, and causing multiple effects, is today one of the most essential challenges for the European Union. A challenge that, due to the wider unstable geopolitical environment, climate change, political instability observed in African countries and many other data, will continue to concern both Europe and internationally.

 

From the first day of taking over the governance of the country, we have followed a holistic approach, with the main goal of our country ceasing to be considered an attractive immigration destination. I feel particularly satisfied because to a large extent our goal has been achieved and our country takes credit for the effectiveness of the policies it follows.

Our planning moved to specific actions, as we had promised in and from our pre-election program: Reduction of flows, quick examination of asylum applications, immediate repatriation of non-entitled persons and improvement of the infrastructure for hosting civil protection applicants.

In this context, despite the suffocating pressure our country received, the statistics reflect the correctness of the policies we have followed in the last year and a half, and I am particularly glad that the effectiveness of our actions is also recognized by the Cypriot society. Specifically:

· Arrivals are down by 50%,

· Arrivals via the Green Line decreased by 65%, and

· Returns increased by 66%.

At the same time, we attach great importance to the inclusion and social integration of immigrants who are legally in our country. In this direction, very soon the relevant Action Plan that we have drawn up will be submitted to the Council of Ministers for approval and implementation. A Plan that includes 50 actions in five axes concerning housing, employment, improving skills, education and health.

The Republic of Cyprus is first among the member states of the European Union in percentage of returns and in fourth place in absolute number. And it was precisely in this context that competent European officials, repeatedly recently, described our country as a European champion in returns, pointing out that the strategy we are following is an example for other states to follow. And it was precisely for this reason that last April the Minister of the Interior was invited to present Cyprus' policy on returns at a ministerial meeting of the Belgian presidency. At the same time, as you know, very recently Cyprus took an initiative on the external dimension of migration, with the organization of a related ministerial meeting in Nicosia, essentially opening the debate on the designation of specific areas in Syria as safe, while, at the same time, of crucial importance for my visits with the President of the Commission, both to Egypt and to Lebanon, also dealt with immigration.

The Republic of Cyprus remains firmly committed to the implementation of its contractual obligations, to the application of international and humanitarian law and is consistent with its obligations. The Cypriot state is welcoming, and so is the Cypriot society. We know from refugee about it and we are more sensitive. But at the same time, we demand that those who legally enjoy the hospitality of our country show the necessary respect for its laws.

Dear Deputy Minister, friend Nikolas, from today you take over the newly established Ministry of Immigration and International Protection. You are taking over the responsibilities from Konstantinos Ioannou, who set the bar very high and inevitably the demands will be many and the expectations even higher.

I am sure you are aware of the enormous challenges you will be called upon to manage but I have no doubt that you will cope with the whole. Your academic training, your professional experience as a legal adviser to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on issues of public international and European law, but above all, the integrity of your character and your dedication, are a guarantee of my strong belief that you will respond to the tasks assigned to you . I personally know your capabilities very well from the cooperation we had when I was Minister of Foreign Affairs and I am convinced that you will be able to adequately and effectively serve our country from this demanding office. You will have the privilege of being the first deputy minister responsible for Immigration and International Protection.

We are therefore entrusting you with the reins of a very ambitious portfolio and I know that you will be committed together with the team you will put together for the best possible result.

You will soon attend the first meeting of the Council of Ministers. I am sure that your presence will give added value to the government scheme and I am sure that through a collective effort we will realize our top goal, which is none other than being at the service of the people, from whom we draw our power.

I invite you to keep the door of your deputy ministry open for the citizens. I also ask you to ensure that there is the necessary cooperation with the political forces, with the social partners, non-governmental organizations and in general with all those who deal with issues in your portfolio.

I have emphasized many times that we may not have magic wands for immediate solutions, but we do have the honest political will, program and planning. And the positive performance so far in the management of immigration proves that the planning and the methodical way we work, bring results, which are recognized by the Cypriot people. The immigration issue cannot be resolved with the logic of extremes, that is, neither open borders nor racist rhetoric. We have proven that we operate in a prudent but decisive manner. And we will continue this policy.

Always remember that we have a responsibility at every moment to strengthen our State. For his safety and the safety of the citizens. We have a duty to create a prosperous country for all its citizens. We have a duty to build for our young people the future they deserve. To be able to repay the trust shown to us by the Cypriot citizen, regardless of social origin and ideological or party beliefs.

Every success in your tasks.

Dear Konstantinos, I sincerely thank you for your professionalism and methodical approach, for your very decisive contribution to the results to date, for the many constructive discussions we had on this particular issue and how to promote with deeds and not words a holistic approach that brings results. As I mentioned before, you have set the bar very high and I am absolutely sure that you will stand by Nikolas' side.

For his part, the Deputy Minister of Immigration and International Protection said that "Your Excellency, Mr. President, I would like to express my sincere thanks for the great honor and trust you have placed in me by assigning me the duties of the Deputy Minister of Immigration and International Protection than to the President. As is known, the specific portfolio concerns the management of major issues both for our country and for the wider region. Therefore, the mission of the Deputy Ministry is critical and requires everyone's support.

Despite the fact that the Ministry of Immigration and International Protection is newly established, it is not starting from scratch. Under the guidance of the President of the Republic, the current Government has drawn up a well thought out strategy, which has produced tangible results. So I would like to thank the Minister of the Interior, the Minister of Justice, the Minister

of Defence, the Deputy Minister of Social Welfare and all the relevant Services for the important work they have done so far. We will continue the implementation of the government program in close cooperation with all relevant Ministries and Services.

I take on these important duties with full awareness of the seriousness of the matters affecting this portfolio. I assure everyone that I will do my best to complete this difficult task. The citizens of the Republic of Cyprus can be sure that I will safeguard the interests of the state, within the framework of legality and with respect for the human being. After all, the power given by the Constitution and laws to government officials is derived from the sovereign people, whom we are bound to serve.

As experience teaches us, there may be crises and additional difficulties along the way. However, with the serious work that has begun and will continue to be done, I am convinced that we will deal with them successfully. Be sure that I will always act with the common good in mind and with the aim of being worthy of expectations, successfully fulfilling this important mission assigned to me by the President of the Republic".