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Minister Aleš Hojs on a working visit in Cyprus on preparations for Presidency

As Slovenia prepares to hold the Presidency of the EU Council in the second half of 2021, Slovenian Minister of the Interior Aleš Hojs and delegation made a two-day visit to Cyprus and held talks with Cypriot Minister of the Interior Nicos Nouris and Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Christodoulides, focusing on the preparations for the upcoming Slovenian Presidency.

Ministers confirmed close and friendly cooperation between both countries and expressed their commitment to deepen cooperation between ministries and police forces in the future.

Slovenian minister informed his Cypriot colleagues about key elements of the upcoming Slovenian Presidency and priorities in the field of home affairs: integrated migration management, stronger Schengen area, ensuring high level of security in the EU, and the regional priority of the Western Balkans.

Migration issues were at the forefront of topics discussed by the ministers. They shared the opinion that success in managing migratory pressure and migrations themselves will only be possible with joint and integrated solutions on the EU level. Minister Hojs said that Slovenia will work towards achieving progress in negotiations on the new Pact on Asylum and Migrations and advocate for a bigger role of EU in the external dimension of migrations by addressing reasons for migrations: "We are going to work towards reaching a breakthrough in returns and readmissions." Ministers agreed that reinforcement of surveillance on the external EU borders is essential and with it a considerably stronger role of Frontex, which should gain higher operational capacity. "Slovenia also sees opportunities for progress in negotiating individual pieces of migration and asylum legislation, where we shall be focusing on finding solutions that would be acceptable for all member states."

To ensure a high level of security in the EU, Slovenia intends to promote closer police cooperation, particularly in the field of sexual child abuse prevention and investigation and cross-border search for missing persons. Slovenia would also wish for progress in negotiations on the Europol regulation. "We support stronger Europol especially in terms of its assistance in analysing large-volume databases to countries with smaller apparatus as well as the vital role it plays in future innovation and development of state-of-the-art policing tools," Minister Hojs added.

Ministers Nouris and Christodoulides ensured that Cyprus remains a constructive partner in negotiations and wished Minister Hojs a successful presidency.

Minister Hojs and Slovenian delegation concluded the meeting with a visit to the Pournara first reception centre and the Kofinou accommodation centre for migrants. Due to additional requirements, Cypriot authorities are currently building a new accommodation centre in Límnes. "We were briefed about the statistics, including the number of migrants daily arriving to the centres in Cyprus. Cyprus is facing the challenge of high number of migrant arrivals and has justified expectations to receive support from fellow member states." Minister also spoke to the staff of the Asylum centre and the staff of European asylum support office working in Cyprus.

Minister Hojs also had a courtesy meeting with Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades, where they also talked about migrations, and with mayor of Nicosia Constantinos Yiorkadjis.