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Cyprus fears migrant influx after Turkey opens border gates: report

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The Cypriot president said Tuesday Cyprus fears an influx of migrants after Ankara allowed refugees to leave for European countries and people massed on the Turkish-Greek border, AFP reported.

The Mediterranean island of Cyprus is split between the Republic of Cyprus, an EU member state, and a breakaway Turkish entity in the north, recognized only by Ankara.

“With what is happening at the Greek border with the migrant flows from Turkey, and Cyprus being first in the number of asylum seekers … [relative to] population … we are certainly concerned,” Republic of Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades told reporters.

“We want to evaluate what steps we can take so that, without [ignoring] human suffering … we will be able to prevent efforts to alter the demographic character of the country,” he added.

Ankara gave a green light for refugees to head to the EU on Friday, sparking thousands to mass at the Greek border.

Turkey hosts some 4 million refugees and faces another huge influx from the civil war in Syria, where the regime — backed by Russian air power — is pressing a violent offensive to retake the last rebel-held province of Idlib.

But European leaders have insisted Turkey abide by a 2016 deal that saw Ankara agree to stop migrant departures to the EU in exchange for 6 billion euros in assistance.

The Republic of Cyprus says it is on the frontline of the Mediterranean migration route with the highest number of first-time asylum seekers per capita.

“There has been a 320 percent increase over the last two years in the flow of refugees” into Cyprus, taking the proportion of refugees to 3.5 percent of the population, government spokesperson Kyriacos Koushos told reporters on Tuesday.

Noting that the borders of Cyprus and fellow EU member states Greece, Italy and Malta are especially exposed, he urged Brussels to “finally take serious decisions on the issue of migration, regarding refugees from countries with unstable conditions, but also economic migrants.”

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