ONE of the smallest countries in the European Union is asking the European Commission for help with its growing problem as thousands of asylum seekers arrive from North Africa The Cypriot government has formally asked the European Commission to assist in relocating 5000 asylum seekers to other EU countries.

According to Politico EU, in a letter sent on Monday to migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos and other EU members, Cyprus’ interior minister Constantinos Petrides described the gravity of the migration situation on the island.

He said that a lack of co-operation from nearby Turkey has made finding a solution more difficult.

In the letter, seen by Politico, Petrides also urges “all member states to submit their pledges for relocating 5000 persons from Cyprus”.

Within the first six months of this year, Petrides said that there has been a 130% increase in arrivals to the Republic of Cyprus, the Greek half of the divided island and an EU member since 2004.

The increase has come despite the country’s determined efforts to curtail migration.

Politico said Petrides claimed that Turkey, where asylum seekers from many countries enjoy visa-free travel, “systematically refuses to co-operate with the competent authorities of the Republic”.

Politico reported: “The small nation with a population of less than 1 million people has seen a dramatic rise in the number of asylum seekers and migrants arriving over the last two years, and now has the EU’s highest number of first-time asylum applications per capita.

It continued: “Cyprus did not participate in a previous EU scheme to redistribute refugees arriving on the shores of Italy and Greece to other EU countries, but its request shows that the bloc’s struggle to handle the migration crisis that peaked in 2015 is far from over.”

Former leader credits EU for Malta progress

AS a staunchly Roman Catholic country, Malta’s introduction of divorce little more than seven years ago came much later than most other European Union nations.

But now Malta is a dynamic and changing country both culturally and economically and the divorce issue has been settled.

That is the conclusion of the Alex Salmond show on RT, which is looking at the country that has a population about the size of Edinburgh but has been a member of the European Union since May 1, 2004.

Former Maltese prime minister Lawrence Gonzi was asked about the legalisation of divorce by Salmond. He replied: “I think it would have happened in any case.”

Gonzi was the leader of the PN-led government which opposed the introduction of divorce after one of its own MPs, Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, put forward a private member’s bill in 2011.

As PM, Gonzi then called a consultative referendum on divorce, which resulted in a 53% majority in favour and led to a change in the law.

Gonzi told Salmond: “Social media has opened up countries, including Malta, to the rest of the world. So, anybody, especially the younger generation, is following closely what is happening out there, and that has become the benchmark for quality of life, for our values, for our way of life.”

He told Salmond the “European Union experience” had “possibly encouraged all of this”.

Gonzi explained: “It gave a context. It encouraged people to speak out, to move out of the conservative, traditional module we had for a long number of years.”

“Looking back, I should have seen the sign of the times more clearly. Even my party should have seen the sign of the times more clearly. We did not and perhaps it’s one of the failures, but you know, the benefit of hindsight is a fairytale.”

Norway to be hit hard by Brexit, says study

A COUNTRY which has had absolutely no say in the Brexit process looks likely to be one of the most damaged economically if the UK leaves without a deal on October 31.

According to a new study by German academics, only the UK itself and Luxembourg will be harder hit by Brexit than Norway, which has long been a major trading partner of the UK.

Norway is outside of the EU but is a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and European Economic Area (EEA). So while it has no say on EU policy, it does abide by EU rules and regulations.

According to reports in Norway, Norwegian officials have announced that they have worked out agreements with the UK if the country leaves the EU on October 31 with no EU agreement.

The UK has yet to finalise any sort of deal with the EFTA countries, however, which may align themselves with the EU, especially in the case of a No-Deal Brexit.

The new German study reports Norway will suffer great economic losses from Brexit. News bureau NTB reported yesterday that the study predicts losses of €220 per resident in Norway if the UK leaves the EU without any trade agreements.

If Boris Johnson’s government somehow manages to get a deal on exit agreements, losses would be reduced to €120 per person.

Most Norwegian experts, however, think some sort of EU agreement will nonetheless be reached that will apply to Norway since the UK has long been Norway’s biggest trading partner, exporting goods worth around £20 billion to the UK.