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No Syria fighters detected in Cyprus, Justice Minister tells CNA

March 22, 2019 at 5:43pm

Cypriot authorities are not aware of any recent incident involving foreign fighters from Syria passing through Cyprus, in an effort to return to their countries of origin after the defeat of ISIS, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou says noting however that “we investigate every piece of information.”

Speaking to CNA, Nicolaou said moreover that Cyprus expects to gain indirect access to the Schengen Information System (SIS) next month, with Europol officers acting as liaisons. According to the Minister, this is intended as a temporary measure aiming to strengthen the capacity of Cypriot authorities to evaluate dangerous cases of irregular migrants arriving in the territory of Cyprus.

Access to SIS “will help to establish whether people who arrive in Cyprus from Syria may be classified as foreign fighters” the Minister said. He also noted that there is a possibility to have among them cases of radicalised individuals who return to their countries of origin and commit terrorist acts.

Nicolaou said, however, that Nicosia is not satisfied with such interim solutions and wants to find a way, for Cyprus Police to have direct access to SIS. The issue will be discussed later in April, when the Director General of DG Migration and Home Affairs arrives to Cyprus, he added.

Cyprus and Ireland are not yet connected to SIS, which is in operation in all other 26 EU member states, as well as Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland.

As Nicolaou explained, Cypriot authorities have access to other information platforms, including that of Europol and Interpol, SIS however is out of reach, since Cyprus is not a Schengen country.

He added that on April 2, two Europol guest offices arrive in Cyprus and Cypriot authorities will have access to SIS through them. This way, the police will be able to evaluate cases of dangerous individuals, he concluded.

Nicosia is asking for a permanent access to these systems, with the Minister expressing finally the readiness of Cypriot authorities to be subjected to evaluations regarding their capacity to handle SIS.

(Cyprus News Agency)