Immigrants to get citizenship
Cabinet approves pioneering draft law to give foreigners and their children greater rights
Second-generation immigrants are going to be given the right to claim Greek citizenship and vote in the country’s elections, the Cabinet decided yesterday.
In what will be groundbreaking legislation for Greece, the proposed law would allow some 250,000 children who have been born in the country to migrant parents to call themselves Greek. Under the draft law, now open to public consultation, if one of the child’s parents has been living in Greece for at least five years in a row, then their son or daughter will be able to claim citizenship.
This right will also be available to children who have attended the first three years of primary school in Greece or have studied at Greek schools for a total of six years. The Interior Ministry estimates that if the law is passed before next year’s municipal elections, then 150,000 second-generation immigrants will be able to vote in the polls.
The bill also proposes that foreigners living and working in Greece legally for five consecutive years will be able to be naturalized, allowing them to vote and run in local elections but not general elections.
Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis said that police have already been instructed not to arrest or deport second-generation immigrants over paperwork discrepancies.
New Democracy accused the government of ignoring the significance of awarding someone citizenship, while the nationalists Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) accused PASOK of “distorting the electoral body.”
Yesterday’s Cabinet meeting was also memorable for another reason, as it was the first time that the head of the Church of Greece was invited to take part. Archbishop Ieronymos repeated proposals that unused Church property be used to help raise money for noble causes.
Date : 23/12/09