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Greece has abruptly liberalized the granting of citizenship

20 November 2014 / 16:11:44  GRReporter
3536 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

Almost two years after the cancellation of the previous law and the freezing of all procedures for the acquisition of Greek citizenship, the Ministry of the Interior has drafted a new law that sets totally new conditions.

Under it every foreign citizen who legally resides in Greece, whether born in the country or who has emigrated to it at a young age, and attends a Greek school will be entitled to acquire Greek citizenship.

In particular, the bill provides for three different conditions and the applicant must meet at least one of them, namely: to have completed primary education at a Greek school or the full six-year secondary education course, or to have a secondary education certificate and a degree from a Greek university or college.

Applicants can submit their applications to the competent district offices when they turn 16 years of age to acquire citizenship upon attaining their majority two years later.

The previous law was annulled in February 2012 by decision of the Greek Supreme Court, arguing that it contradicted the Constitution. The senior magistrates defined the statutory terms for acquiring Greek citizenship as formal and insufficient. According to them, the most significant gap in the law was that it did not include a procedure to demonstrate the relationship of the applicant with the Greek nation.

"The tendency to adhere to the" right of blood" indirectly continues in the new law, as those children who attend Greek schools are entitled to citizenship, regardless of whether they were born in Greece or not," president of the Greek Forum for Migrants Ahmed Muavia told GRReporter.

The second negative fact according to him is that the law will not apply to those children who attend the 13 foreign schools, although they are officially recognized by the Greek Ministry of Education and Religions. "There will be ridiculous situations in which one of the children in a family will be entitled to citizenship because he or she is attending a Greek school and the other will not for he or she is studying at a foreign school," said Muavia.

According to the Ministry of the Interior, the new law will entitle 80,000 children to acquire Greek citizenship. "The total number of children who are attending Greek schools and universities is 75,000. We are not aware of the exact number of those who have already graduated, but it is not great." He added that over 80 per cent of the children are of Albanian origin, whereas the number of those belonging to other communities is significantly lower.

The president of the Greek Forum for Migrants stressed that the organization has not yet received the full text of the bill because of which it is not yet aware of all the details about how the law will be implemented. The legal text has been sent to the competent Ministers for it to be signed and it will be submitted for voting by parliament afterwards, as well as to immigrant organizations in order for them to present their final opinions on it.

Meanwhile, non-profit organization "Generation 2.0" expressed approval for the bill, defining it as a "particularly positive step towards the formal recognition of children of immigrant origin and their essential integration into Greek society."

"Unlike the previous law, which favoured the acquisition of citizenship by minors, the new bill focuses on the opportunities to provide it to adults, offering alternatives to the nine-year compulsory education. This enables young people who have arrived in Greece at a greater age but continue their education in Greek institutes and universities to apply for Greek citizenship. At the same time, minors who meet the criteria can submit the necessary documents and acquire Greek citizenship when they come of age," reads the message of the organization.

"Generation 2.0" urges the political leadership of Greece and all democratic parties to vote for the adoption of the law, stating, "There is always room for improvement but the removal of inequalities in our society is a matter of urgency."  

Tags: SocietyImmigrantsGreek citizenshipBillConditionsAttending a Greek school
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