Wednesday

17th Aug 2022

Romania and Cyprus impose migrant relocation conditions

  • Romania's PM Ponta wants to join Schengen zone in exchange for relocating migrants (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Romania and Cyprus are demanding EU concessions in exchange for allowing in a set number of relocated asylum seekers.

On Monday (7 September), Romania’s prime minister Victor Ponta said he won’t accept relocated asylum seekers unless Romania is allowed to join the Schengen passport-free zone.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

“Solidarity means both rights and obligations, so if they want us to have the same obligations, they have to give us the same rights”, he said.

Romania, along with Bulgaria, had hoped to join Schengen in 2011 after becoming EU members in 2007. But corruption and lack of rule of law has held back the process.

Germany vetoed Romania’s accession despite backing from the European Commission and the European Parliament.

All member states except the UK, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia are in Schengen. Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein are also in.

The latest relocation plan to be presented this week requires Romania to accept around 4,600 asylum seekers.

But Romania says the figure is too high and that it will only accept 1,785 people.

Romania’s president Klaus Iohannis, who over the summer had asked Ponta to resign over corruption allegations, also opposes mandatory quotas.

"We can treat this matter with calm and responsibility and be sympathetic with those countries having a large number of refugees. I don't think that mandatory quotas are the solution”, he said.

Christians only, please

Cyprus, for its part, says it too prefers to host only Christian refugees.

"We would seek for them to be Orthodox Christians … it’s not an issue of being inhuman or not helping if we are called upon, but to be honest, yes, that’s what we would prefer,” Cypriot interior minister Socrates Hasikos told state radio on Monday.

Cyprus is set to accept 274 relocated asylum seekers under the commission’s latest scheme, but is willing to take up to 300.

Hasikos comments follow similar declarations by Slovakia.

In August, a Slovak interior ministry spokesperson said the lack of mosques in the country means they only Christians would be happy to live there.

Czech and Polish leaders havee made similar remarks on integration of Muslims.

They’ve also agreed to host Christian only families from Syria in non-EU rescue missions orgnaised by a Biritsh charity.

Hungary struggling to register all migrants

Hungary is trying to register all migrants in line with EU law, but struggling to cope with huge numbers and with people who refuse to take part in registration.

Frontex ends Lithuania border surveillance operation

The agency is suspending border surveillance operations in Lithuania. It also wants to reverse a rule which requires it to suspend operations in EU states where violations take place — and instead send in more agents.

Lampedusa: The invisible migrant crisis at Europe's gate

Last weekend, Italy's Lampedusa island was again making headlines for being overrun with migrants. But, paradoxically, the crisis was more visible from TV news bulletins and social media than from the ground.

News in Brief

  1. Tens of thousands of Jews quit Russia since start of war
  2. Russia says GDP forecasts better than expected
  3. Spain 'hopeful' for new gas pipeline
  4. German troops return to Bosnia over instability fears
  5. Next UK PM candidates reject Scottish independence push
  6. Russia will not allow British spy plane overflight
  7. Discrimination in Germany remains high, new figures show
  8. US weighs plan to revive Iran nuclear deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  4. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us