Posts Tagged With: Cyprus

“Why Don’t They Come Here?” A Cypriot’s Take on the Refugee Crisis

Had an interesting chat with my B&B host in Larnaca about the refugee crisis and Cyprus’ role, or lack thereof. He said: “Cyprus is only 200km from Beirut. We’re the closest EU country to Syria, and it’s very safe here. If migrants wanted safety, this would be a natural place to come and a fairly easy journey. They could even settle in the Turkish occupied north to avoid religious conflicts with the Greeks. Yet they don’t come. We’ve had almost no asylum seekers. So why not? Because this has never been about safety, for most migrants at least. What they want is jobs, and Cyprus is a small country and there’s no money to be made here, so they don’t want to come here. They target big states like Germany and Britain with large populations and economies, and they want to be able to move freely between countries to pursue work, which they can’t do in Cyprus since we’re far from the rest of Europe. They’re just exploiting the safety concerns to get a free work visa, and the mass media is trying very hard to hide this.”

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Crossing a Line in Nicosia, the Cypriot Capital

Crossing over to the Turkish-occupied side of Nicosia, dubbed “the world’s last divided capital,” is the only time I’ve had to go through passport control within the same country (or is it?). This is a city split by prominent walls and barbed wire, patrolled by military on both sides as well as neutral UN peacekeepers. Crossing over is an abrupt transition of language, currency, faces, music, and religion. Turkey regards it as a separate country, but thanks to its acquisition / “independence” by way of a Turkish invasion in the 1970s, the rest of the world considers it an illegally occupied territory.

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