Greece: citizenship for children of immigrants?

In between trying to deal with one of Europe’s worst economic crises and a crippling series of strikes, the Papandreou government in Greece has introduced a new immigration law. It would allow the children of immigrants to apply for Greek citizenship, provided that

(1) their parents have lived legally in Greece for at least 10 years, and
(2) the child has completed at least three years of schooling in Greece.

By one estimate, over 250,000 children and young adults would qualify for citizenship. As many as 100,000 of those may be of voting age.

This is a huge, huge deal. In order to understand why, you have to understand the odd position of immigrants in Greek society.
Immigrants began pouring into Greece from its former Communist neighbors in the early 1990s. The biggest group by far was Albanians — about 2/3 of all immigrants are Albanian — but there are also tens of thousands of Bulgarians and Macedonians and a sprinkling of people from further abroad (Ukrainians, Filipinos, you name it). Today nearly ten percent of Greece’s population is immigrants, and almost 20% of the workforce.

However: almost none of these immigrants have been allowed to apply for citizenship. In fact, Greece’s immigration system is quite deliberately set up to make this almost impossible. Instead, immigrant workers are allowed a work/residence permit for a maximum of one year. The bureaucracy that oversees the immigration system is famously opaque and sluggish, so workers (or their employers) must apply for permits many months in advance. Even so, the old permit often expires before the new one is granted.

In fact, citizenship by naturalization is almost unknown in Greece. Greek law recognizes citizenship jus sanguinis, “by blood”, through at least one Greek parent. Otherwise… well, the naturalization process is so difficult that the number of new Greek citizens from naturalization is a few hundred per year.

Previous Greek governments operated under the assumption that Greece simply did not want non-Greek citizens, and that guest workers were just that — temporary guests. The system was thus designed to keep immigrant workers on a perpetual treadmill, always either applying for a new permit, about to apply, or nervously waiting for one after the old one expired. All the immigrants were thus vulnerable to expulsion for any reason or none: feature, not bug.

But this consensus is now breaking down. Part of the reason is simply the passage of time. 20 years after the first wave of immigrants arrived, there are now tens of thousands of Albanians and Bulgarians who have been in Greece nonstop for most of their adult lives. They own houses or apartments, speak fluent Greek, and are settled members of their communities. Furthermore, there are now about a quarter of a milllion children of immigrants; in some schools, they outnumber native Greeks.

If a child is born in Greece, speaks perfect Greek, wants to live in Greece, and is willing to swear loyalty to the Greek state — should that child be allowed Greek citizenship?

The Papandreou administration is saying yes. However, it’s not quite that easy.

A fierce nationalist backlash has already appeared. Parties of the right — especially the odious LAOS — are accusing the administration of “diluting Hellenism” and betraying the spirit of the nation. The Greek Orthodox Church has not made a formal statement, but it’s clearly unenthusiastic about a bill that would allow thousands of Muslims and Catholics to become Greek.

And while most of the nationalist rhetoric is irrational (and much of it is outright hateful), there is a real point here. If this law is passed, or one like it, then within a generation betwen 5% and 10% of Greece’s population may not be ethnic Greeks. They’ll be hyphenated: Albanian-Greeks, Bulgarian-Greeks, Pakistani-Greeks. In a country that is over 90% self-identified ethnic Greeks, this is going to be an incredibly fast and dramatic change.

That said, there is precedent. It seems to have been forgotten by almost all parties to the debate, but something like this has happened in Greece before. At the time of Greek independence, back in the 19th century, something between 5% and 10% of Greece’s population spoke… Albanian.

The “Arvanites” were ethnic Albanians of the Orthodox faith. They moved into the penninsula during late Byzantine and early Ottoman times; by independence, they had been there for centuries. They spoke Albanian and were culturally slightly different from their Greek neighbors, but there was little discrimination or hostility between the groups. They were united by a common Orthodox faith and a common resentment of their Turkish rulers. Intermarriage was common, and Arvanites who left their villages quickly became bilingual in Greek.

More to the point, the long war of independence cemented the Arvanites into the Greek nation. After a decade of fighting alongside the ethnic Greeks against the Turks, they came to consider themselves, not Albanians, but Greeks who happened to speak Albanian at home. Over the next 180 years, the Arvanites steadily assimilated into Greece. Today only a handful speak Arvanite even at home, and they do not like being called “Albanian”.

Arvanites have been Presidents and Prime Ministers, generals and admirals, artists and businessmen and scholars. The current Archbishop of Athens, head of the Greek Orthodox Church, is an Arvanite. Nobody gives it a moment’s thought. Being an Arvanite is a complete non-issue in Greece.

So Greece has managed to assimilate a large non-Greek population once already. (Arguably more than once. But the population transfers of the 20th century are a touchy topic. Some other time, perhaps.)

That said, this is going to be a very fraught and difficult law to pass. And whether it passes, and if so in what form, is going to have a huge impact on Greece’s future.

Watching with interest.

111 thoughts on “Greece: citizenship for children of immigrants?

  1. Pingback: Greece: citizenship for children of immigrants? - Viewsflow

  2. Please note:

    Bulgaria is in EU, they are not immigrants !!!

    50% of immigrants are Albanians, the other 40%
    are from third world counties.

    Catholic immigrant in Greece? The shortest joke!!!

    Ethnic Albanians back in 19th century !!! The second shortest joke !!!

  3. “Bulgaria is in EU, they are not immigrants”

    Er… yes, they are.

    Unlike Albanians or others, they get automatic right of residence, but they’re still not eligible for citizenship.

    “Catholic immigrant in Greece? The shortest joke!!!”

    I’m not sure what the joke is. There are a couple of hundred thousand of them — including roughly 30-40,000 Filipinos, 40-50,000 Catholic Albanians, and 40,000 Poles.

    (There are also around 50,000 native Greek Catholics.)

    “Ethnic Albanians back in 19th century !!! The second shortest joke !!!”

    Again, I’m not sure what the joke is. The Arvanites are descended from ethnic Albanians, they’ve been in Greece for hundreds of years, and they’ve been a huge part of Greek history since independence. Again, five or six Prime Ministers have been Arvanite or part-Arvanite, and the current Archishop of Athens, Ieronymos II, grew up speaking Arvanitika as well as Greek.

    This isn’t particularly mysterious or controversial. Just google “Arvanite” and start clicking.

    Doug M.

  4. I don’t know what the requirements for gettin a citizenship in the rest of Europe are but the ones proposed by Papandreou look very loose to me.5 years in Greece and you are grantedcitizenship?That looks like an open invitation to the whole world,come in Greece stay for 5 years and the door to the whole Europe is open.

    Besides i wonder,a large percentage of those who will get citiznship( i guess around 70%) are going to be Muslims.How willing will those people and their children be to serve at the greek army and potentially fight against Turks,their muslim brothers.Because let’s be honest,Turkey-Greece tense relations are the only reason Greee has compulsory military service.

    Finally Greek Government should look at other western countries.In Germany Turks arrived in 60s,how

  5. “5 years in Greece and you are granted citizenship?”

    No. That’s not what it says.

    Doug M.

  6. The assimilation of Arvanites is not the only one that occured in Greece. Similarily, the Aromanians (who were speaking a language similar to Romanian) were either pushed to emigrate to Romania (mainly) in 1920’s and 30’s or welcomed into the mainstream Greek society.

  7. Sorry. Greeks ARE Albanians, at least genetically. Haplotype profiles of the two nations are very close. They’re about as close to each other as Northern and Southern Germans.

    The ancient Greeks are extinct race. They were absorbed by other Balkan nations and left only (slightly altered) language.

    Today’s Greek are basically Greek-speaking Albanians. That’s what the genes say.

  8. Pavel from Prague,

    Interesting take, I never heard that before. Do you have any basis for your claim? Albanians have always been a mystery to me. Untill lately I beleived they were turks and for some reasons it seems that was the general european perception and as they were isolated to th eoutside world, nobody cared to challenge that perception or care about them at all. However I have been reading some research lateley and it does seem tocome to the conclusion that they are the oldest inhabitants of the balkans. Also interesting research suggests that most ancient grrek words cannot explained but in albanian and have no meaning in the current modern greek language. I am starting to look into learning some albanian language but it is not an easy language. As a linguist one would look at the name places (usually they survive the invasions but it is not always the case). If you take for instance Ionian see that means nothing in greece whereas in albanian it is deti ion which means our see. Also I found countless examples like this with with other things. Alexander in albanian seem to means “a le ne anderr“ which literary means “born like in the dream“ Not that this proves anything but interesting when you know that Alexander`s mother Olivia was most probably albanian according his biography. Anyway it is the most reasonable explanation I have heard regarding the origin of the name alexander. So now that the albania is open to the outside world I am sure more research will be conducted regarding those people that we know so little about.

  9. Greece is a long way behind the game: which is perhaps why the potential numbers are so large.

    Roman law placed “place of origin” (jus soli) as well as “parentage” (jus sanguinis) on the same level. For most states jus sanguinis proved acceptable until, in more modern times (eg from the 19th century), immigration started to happen on a larger scale than previously. Thus, many nations, struggling (as Greece) with large numbers of immigrants and their descendants had to resolve whether jus sanguinis alone was sufficient.

    France had laid down the rules followed by most of Europe (jus sanguinis) but has, since, added and subtracted various forms of jus soli – in line with US and UK changed policy.

    I wish the Greek government well in their venture – but predict it will cause more trouble within Greece than the economic problems.

    NB the word “nationality” began to be used legally only towards the beginning of the 19th C.

  10. This is good news. If greeks do rise up against this it’s only because they have something to fear, they’re unsure of themselves. God knows how much history and culture theyve claimed from others and frantically attempted to hellenize, and now they fear the people who are already at their doorstep and partially inside their homes. I think greece is an interesting case of a nation built on propaganda that merits studying by scientists.

  11. P.S. Let’s not forget that its common for politicians to bring up identity issues when they want to take away the attention of the public from how bad their economy is!
    As I said above, if the greek government means this for real, then its good news. But they would need something this BIG to take the attention away from whats going on, and even this probably won’t do it.

  12. Nationalistic propaganda also expands to various dubious gene-related research. If one is interested one can find ‘gene-researches’ ‘proving’ that Greeks are Africans, albanians, Slavs, Philippinos or whatever have you.

    The fact is that a significant percentage of modern Greeks descent from Arvanite origins. This no more and no less than a natural consequence of the fact that many peoples have been sharing a common geographical area (the greater Balkans, Southern Italy, Sicily, Asia Minor and Northern Africa) for very long. Be suspicious of any theories putting more significance to issues like this than this simple fact.

  13. Nation building started in the Balkans under Ottoman rule during the late 18th, 19th and early 20th century modeled after the French and Italian nation building processes. Some nation building is happening even as we speak (e.g countries of former Yugoslavia). Nation building requires national myths. National myths are based on historical facts but distorted / censored to fit the requirements of nation building. This has not been only a Greek ‘priviledge’. It applies to all nation building in the Balkans, in Europe and probably all over the world.

  14. Mr. Muir,

    While I find your expose of the Greek immigrant situation quite insightful, I would be hesitant to use the term ‘ethnic Albanians’ (as well as ‘ethnic Greeks, or ‘ethnic whatever’) when referring to people groups occupying the Balkan peninsula during the Byzantine or early Ottoman periods. For lack of a better term it’s better to refer to these peoples based on the language that they spoke. Thus Albanian (or Arvanite) speaking, Greek, Bulgarian or Turkish speaking are terms which I believe are more historically appropriate.

  15. @NikosR,

    You’re right to say that “ethnic Albanians” is somehwat anachronistic. That said, the Arvanites were Albanian-speaking and seem to have come from what is now Albania, more or less.

    I agree firmly on the issue of national myths. Much of what is now taken for granted as “national character” and “national legends” is in fact the product of deliberate nation-building in the 19th century.

    Also firm agreement about trashy pseudo-linguistic theories. There are some good ones — the linguistic work on the handful of surviving Thracian words, for instance — but you need to step very, very carefully.

    There are some interesting stories hidden in the gene assays. That said, yes, gene frequencies in the Balkans tend to slop bonelessly across modern national borders.

    Doug M.

  16. Mr. Muir,

    Just a small (but quite significant) addition to your list of peoples who have immigrated to Greece in the last 10 years or so. An increasing number of them come from Africa, the Indian sub-continent, Iraq and Afghanistan.

    There are quite a few distinct differences between them and the immigrants from the former Communist countries.

    Three of them are
    a. That there’s no hope for these people to sometime acquire automatically the right of residence and work due to their country joining the EU

    b. That there’s very little opportunity or will on their side to return to their home countries at some point and

    c. There is even less opportunity for them to integrate than its is for immigrants from European countries.

    Let me also point out that Europe has demonstrated very little support to Greece in dealing with those waves of immigrants (I remind that Greece is a EU ‘border’ country and thus one of the main recipients of immigrants into the EU).

  17. Nikos, I have never heard of any study showing greeks are africans, but I have heard of african migrations to greece (and to sicily), beeing that its right there. That should be understandable. I think people who say there are such studies are just exaggerating for effect, to disprove some other things on which there are studies.

    I’ve noticed that greeks reject the use of the word “ethnic” when it refers to other ethnicities present in greece, but not when referring to themselves. Greeks claim they are ethnic descendants of the ancient greeks for example. Interesting how in this case the argument that ethnicities didn’t exist then, doesnt apply, but it applies to arvanites.
    I said earlier, the greek elites fear the existence of “others” in greece, and thats why they fear accepting it also.
    My question to you is: if the arvanites who were instrumental in founding the greek state were not ethnic albanians, do you by the same token concede that the greeks who founded the greek state were also not ethnic greeks? They were all greek speakers and albanian speakers alike, no?!

    Doug, in your original article you said that greece has been able to assimilate foreigners before, so it should be able to again. Thing is, that times have changed.Access to information is greater. People can keep closer communication ties with their home countries.When the arvanites were being assimilated laws were passed that made it illegal to speak albanian in public, and thats why as you touched on, arvanites were known as “greeks who happened to speak albanian at home”. They couldn’t speak it anywhere else besides home, and that led to assimilation. No press was allowed or schools. That would be very hard to enforce today even if human rights groups and the EU allowed you to pass such laws.
    While back then the work plan was that you force people to assimilate in your country, today the developed countries follow a liberal path where minorities are recognized and are supposed to be helped in promoting their culture. So assimilation won’t be as easy as it was then, in fact i’d say it’ll be impossible. Integration should be the goal, if anything.
    The third reason why its not the same is that when the arvanites were assimilated they had no stable, respectable home country or country of origin to look to. Albania was still under ottoman control, and even after it got independence it was in no way their solid rock to look to for support. Nowadays, although still not powerful, albania is in a much better position to look after its minorities around the region. It’s now a NATO member. For example, a whole lot of children’s books in albanian were sent to the children of albanian immigrants in greece for new year’s just recently. Although few, albanian schools in greece have opened up, and some literature in albanian is printed there. That will make assimilation impossible.
    And the greek government knows all this, thats why the status of immigrants in greece has been in limbo for so long, and thats why it will probably remain that way.

  18. @mirakulous

    I believe my comment which you refer to, contains the answer to the question you are posing to me. You just have to read it.

  19. Excellent. Honest greeks that will go out on a limb and admit this are rare and much appreciated. Wouldn’t be surprised a flurry of deniers starts posting below me.

  20. @mirakulous 2

    Theoretizing is all fine. The reality is different. As many Greeks do, I employ a nice Albanian lady who does the house cleaning for me (myself being a hopeless and helpless bachelor). She, her husband who works as a roof builder and their two children live not far for my place (which just happens to be an old Arvanite village not far from Athens, now considered almost an Athenian suburb). At least one of their two children has been born here. I doubt their children (approx 7 and 10 in age) speak any Albanian, and ‘m sure they speak Greek amongst themselves and to their parents as I have frequently attested by overhearing conversations between their mother and them over the mobile phone. FWIW

  21. That’s all great nikos. I was theoretizing. I was speaking generally. Sure since you live in a small village access to information is much smaller. Are you sure that this is the case with every albanian child born and growing up in athens, where 1 in 5 people is an albanian immigrant? Are you sure that the education level of the parents is the same? An uneducated parent is likely not to care about his mother tongue and wouldn’t teach it to his child in a foreign country. But someone who has studied past high school or who is a teacher by trade (not a cleaner and roof builder) will be much more likely to teach their children their mother tongue. Also, most immigrant children(I speak from personal experience) dont grow up in early childhood loving their country of origin. It’s something that people take on actually when theyre mature (18+), its something you take on when you start thinking about your existence. I doubt 7 year olds think much beyond how cool blue toys are, and how nice toy cars are! Just saying….maybe my personal experience gives me a deeper understanding. Give those kids you know 10 more years, and a few more yearly visits to their grandparents in albania(hypothetically speaking of course, but reality is most kids born in immigration have grandparents in their country of origin), and have them move to athens and start looking for people of their kind; you’ll see exactly what im talking about.

  22. @mirakulous 3

    They are not rare. They are just less vocal as most non-nationalistic people all over the Balkans tend to be. You have met (?) the wrong people.

    Hard-core nationalism in Greece (with the possible exception of matters related to our Turkish neighbors) was IMO an old fashioned and dying thing up until the 90’s when some of our neighbors started doing their best to revive it…Every action causes a reaction. Unfortunately.

  23. Maybe theyre not rare as you say. It’s probably not that I’ve met the wrong people. It’s that greek official politics is like that, while the average person may not be. I had realized this as well, but I do believe that if a government feeds its people the same food everyday, they start liking it no matter what.I should hold a more critical view of greek politics rather than greek people though, youre right.

    P.S. I live in canada, and it might be interesting for you to know, that greek immigrants here are ALL ultra-nationalists,even though their knowledge of greek history is minute. Irony is a bitch!

  24. @mirakulous 4

    As I said, I don’t live in a small village. I live in an Athenian suburb. And even if I were, it’s been a long time (maybe 40 years?) since access to information was restricted for inhabitants of small villages in Greece..

    IMO Immigrants in general want to be assimilated.. wrong choice of word maybe integrate would be better. It’s when they are not allowed to and they are marginalized that things start to get sour. Action – Reaction you know?

  25. @mirakulous 5

    There’s no way someone fortunate enough to live in a ‘new’ country like Canada, the US or Australia to really get a grasp of the very real issues with regards to national identity, immigration etc etc that are a reality in one of the old world countries. These ‘new’ countries were built taking multi-ethnicity as granted (and even so they haven’t managed to totally avoid the perils of racism as you probably well know). One has to take the time to really study otherwise one can easily fall victim of projecting one’s references to a non applicable framework.

  26. Sure. I understand completely. I still stand by my conviction that things are different in suburbs from what they are in cities.

  27. I completely agree. Due to lack of information, thats why somethings become more extreme here, and not just by greek immigrants, but immigrants of all balkan countries. Its like a brand new land where they can bring the nationalism over and “spread” it.

  28. @mirakulous 6

    Immigrants tend to be some of the most nationalistic of all people. This is true whether you are Greek, Turk, Bulgarian, Albanian, or whatever have you. You only have to look into various blogs and forums to realise that. I also don’t think it’s only a Balkan thing. I can’t readily explain this phenomenon, I can guess but it is really a question for the sociologists to answer.

  29. Admittedly I’m unfamiliar with the history…this was a fascinating walk-through for me. Thank you.

  30. very interesting analysis Doug.

    The Papandreu government happened to surprise me in the positive sense. This government seems to be distancing itself not only in immigrant issues from that nasty backward nationalism that used to define greek coinage among both the left and the right until lately. The heavy and very popular reaction of LAOS was actually to be expected. Five or so decades of collective brain washing do not go away in a snap.

    Actually during the Albanian communist regime the population was exposed to very similar brain washing techniques. Yet, with time the discrepancy of state propaganda and reality became so obvious and grotesque that nobody believed to any propaganda any more. And the metamorphosis of communism to turbo nationalism that was so successful in Ex Yougoslavia and which was the last resort of the communist elite to regenerate its power could only fail in Albania.

    Speaking of which I think it was ultimately the steady corrosion of belief in the system as well as in it’s elites caused by the discrepancy of propaganda and reality that led to the crumbling from within of the entire eastern block and the large failure of reformers (aka. Gorbatschov). Not any Reaganite toughness. To the least sign of weakness people seem to desert a system in which they do not believe anymore. In the west despite heavy economic crisis capitalism has never been questioned. Anyway this is off topic.

  31. They let the Irish into the U.S. and 150 years later the economy collapsed. Greece should be careful.

  32. NikosR
    I agree that those issues are hot potatoes in the Balkans; one has to look at the virulence of your comments if some doubts are raised about Greek history. 🙂
    Just because things are accepted by the general opinion, that does not make them true. Most history is written by winners and research is mostly based on the previous writings sometimes with the intent of producing the result in the sponsor’s mind and very often without genuine research.
    From your link:
    Alexander = alexein (to defend) + andros (man)
    For a linguist, you have to explain how alexein + andros evolved to alexandre. If anything this would evolve to andros-alexein in ancient Greek but never to alexein-andros. This is like accepting an evolution to Bourg-stras instead of Strasbourg from a linguistic point of view. Also why would they name him defender of man when he was born without having knowledge of his future deeds? Are you saying he had a different name at birth and was called Alexander after he was victorious? The Albanian story is not less valid than what the Greek one in my opinion. And I find lots of inconsistencies with countless other Greek myths which can be explained in a much more simple way in Albanian language. So if Occam razors principle were to be applied, many Greek myths would be shattered.
    Now will we be more advanced if we found out that Alexander was Albanian rather than Greek or Macedonian, I think not, and it is pointless to pursue the discussion on this basis, but those issues can be of sentimental interest to the Balkan nations.
    Ancient Greek heritage is patrimony of all humanity and for modern Greeks claiming themselves decedents of ancient Greece is as farfetched as for present day Egyptians claiming themselves as direct decedents of ancient Egypt.
    Have a look at the magnificent statues of ancient Greeks and have a look around people in the streets of Greece to find someone having a faint resemblance to them (just joking!)
    So, it seems Greeks cheated their way in history just as they did to get in EU…maybe after all that Trojan horse is all Greece is about 

  33. Most history is written by winners

    Which may explain why the most widely-known Greek of the past 500 years is either the guy who married JFK’s widow or the guy who played the dad on Webster.

  34. “So, it seems Greeks cheated their way in history just as they did to get in EU…maybe after all that Trojan horse is all Greece is about”

    that is the funniest thing I have heard for today I am still laughing…

  35. @phillipe

    You obviously don’t know what you are talking about now, do you? You don’t really believe your ignorant post deserves a serious answer.

  36. Too many issues to start here:
    1)Although not very relevant, Alexander=he who makes men run away, genetic studies are done by a company hired by phony Macedonian Gruevski and co and are of course not worth wasting any space.
    2)At the time of the greek revolution, religion was a much stronger force than origin. What percentage of modern day Turks have non-turkish origin or DNA(jennisaries)? You do not call them ethnic Albanians, Bulgarians, Serbs, Greeks or whatever! As far as the revolutionaries were concerned, there were Turks and Turkalbanians(meaning moslem Albanians). There were no Albanians(with any sort of national conscience) in ancient times
    3)With regard to citizenship issues: In this
    particular case, I think the government is more extremist than LAOS. What LAOS is saying is that
    this is a decision with potentially far-reaching consequences(since citizenship cannot be revoked) and has to be approved
    by a referendum(which Greece has never held since 1974!). This would legitimize such a decision and not be subject to cancellation by the next government. This makes LAOS look a lot more democratic than the government, a government which is only in power because of monumental incompetence and corruption by the previous government.
    4)By any measure the proposed law is extremist: The reasonable thing to do is that citizenship is not a right, but a provilege that countries grant to people who also see it an an honor and who deserve it. Take for example Switzerland. If the local community likes you, you are granted citizenship. If not, it does not matter if you live there for 10 generations and if you speak all official swiss languages flawlessly.
    This would also be the logical thing here:
    People who have been in the country long enough, who have a flawless record, who integrate with the rest of the community instead of forming their own ghettos, who share the values of the society and consider themselves greek, should get citizenship. The way the law is it has several flaws and does NOT address major concerns such as:
    -citizenship is a right, even for childern by fanatical islamic parents who are raised to think that war against the infidels is their first duty. The bombings in London for example were done by such second and 3rd generation CITIZENS. So there is a risk that Greece will have the fortunes of London, Paris or Madrid, or the murders in Holland and the attempts in Denmark. Why exactly does one need that? And what exactly does the government do to mitigate that risk? Answer: Nothing
    -The Kossovo precedent. What exactly is there to guarantee that a NON-integrated minority concentrates in some region, intimidates away the local population and asks for independence?
    The Arvanite example is a good one: You can have any origin, as long as you are integrated and no one cares.
    -Citizenship is denied ONLY if one has a final, non-appealable CRIMINAL conviction. This means that an immigrant kid who is a school bully and threatens his classmates with a knife will still get citizenship. Even if one ends ups with such a conviction, chances are that he will have received citizenship before the judicial process is over.

    The government tries to paint those opposed to this law as “fascist, racist, xenophones”. The fact is that the majority has huge reservations, not based on DNA and jus sanguini, but on legitimate concerns that the government does not and cannot answer.

    5)As for Albanians: Albanians often have not helped their own case because many crimes have been commited by Albanians. In two recent cases, one last week, one yesterday, Albanian criminals were arrested with heavy equipment, including kalashnikofs and grenades. The details are not important(in at least one case the problem lied with the greek justice /furlough system)As far as this law is concerned, however, Albanians are not seen as a threat, because most are well-integrated; the main concern is islamic immigrants whose values are to a large extent incompatible with western values and because of that do not integrate well.

    Last, an unbelievable position by a pro-government newspaper(unfortunately the article is in greek)
    http://www.tanea.gr/default.asp?pid=10&ct=13&artID=4561866

    Basically it says: We give them citizenship and passports, so they can go to other EU countries!
    This is much worse than any cooking up of statistical data.

  37. Citizenship is a human right and it cannot be denied by referendum. There are cases of second generation immigrants not having a citizenship anywhere in the world, neither in Greece nor in their parents country. First generation immigrants also deserve rights (like the promised vote for the municipal elections). You just can’t justify having second class citizens in a society for whatever reason, not in this age and time anyway.

  38. Chris, you’re way off on many things you say.

    2) Ancient times there were only turkoalbanians? You say ethnicity doesn’t exist, but that only applies to albanians clearly, because if you’re referring to “turks” then you’re referring to a background. Also, 150 years ago was ancient times??? Are you for real?

    4) You say that switzerland’s citizenship laws are “logical” in this case. Buddy, greece aint switzerland. First of all, that law is a remnant of medieval times in switzerland, and if you speak to a few average swiss people they’ll tell you how stupid and outdated that law is. Second, switzerland hasn’t expelled and massacred people of a different ethnic background and mother tongue, and thats why it is what it is today. Greece is actually pretty close to the complete opposite. You’re comparing a country that denies any people of a different background have ever lived in it, to a country that recognizes and cherishes its ethnic diversity. So no, it is not “the logical thing” to do in this case, and the analogy is way off.
    Also, in the same point you speak of the kosovo precedent, and you clearly don’t understand the case of kosovo, or you’re just spreading propaganda. In kosovo, an unintegrated minority(90+% is a minority now?) didn’t just concentrate in 1 area and ask for independence. They were living in that area before that area was annexed by serbia. A peoples that are oppressed asking for independence is hardly a precedent set by kosovo. Greece did the same thing when it got independence from the ottomans.
    A kosovo case could’ve happened in greece as well with chameria, but the greek government took care of that, exactly for fear of this happening. So such a thing is not possible to happen in greece nowadays.

    5) As for this case, albanians have committed many crimes in greece, but a lot more of them haven’t! Media always focuses on the immigrants when economy isnt doing well. Look at Italy taking offense to romanians the past 2 years as their economy spiraled. This is the oldest trick in the book. Having someone to point at who’s a foreigner and saying how bad he is, helps brings cohesion and unity in a nation. The germans used the jews for that, greece uses the albanians, italy uses albanians/romanians, france uses arabs, etc etc; this is common.
    How many media are focusing on the immigrants that came to greece, learned a brand new language, have children that excel in the school system (better than greek children in many cases), open successful businesses, work jobs that greeks dont want to do, etc etc? Not many!
    As for your recent examples of crime, I read on the news (just recently as u did), that a greek woman walked into a maternity and stole the baby of an albanian couple! So should we say that greeks are criminals now? That’s not a good way to characterize crime; crime doesn’t follow an ethnic background. Taking examples of greeks committing crimes, or albanians, and saying this ethnicity or that ethnicity, respectively are criminals is idiotic. Criminals are criminals, in any nationality, and they carry out their “business” with no regard for borders.

    In closing you said: Basically it says: We give them citizenship and passports, so they can go to other EU countries!

    Great, then PROBLEM SOLVED! You don’t have to worry about your fictitious “kosovo precedent”, and people not integrating, and if theyve gone away they cant commit crimes in greece, no?!;)
    Thought I should close with a little sarcastic humor.

  39. mirakulous,
    I agree with your comments and I am greek and workf for amnesty international here. I can tell you that for each crime comitted by the immigrants here, there is at least one comited by our police forces towards the foreigners here. Greek society like most balkan societies is deeply racist and it still has to come to terms with ideas of superior greek superiority especially towards her neighbours. Our police is one of the most brutual and immigrants are beatten up in horrendous ways by policeman and never investigated. Also the proportion of crimes committed by immigrants in comparision to locals is negligent but most newspapers want to report them whenever an immigrant is involved. The majority of crimes that were investigated by my team where immigrants were involved was because they were employed by locals illegally , not paid for the work done, and having no recourse to the greek judicial system as they dont have papers they returned to viloence against their employer. i am ashamed to say this but greek society is much more like similar to balkan societies than european, let alone switzerland. we have nothing in common with them. I am sure Greek will turn against europe as soon as we realise that there is no more money coming here from EU. We are no better than the avearage corrupt mediterrean country that got a lot of free money fron the EU. Shame on us for all the waste.

  40. Well thanks for your honesty nikolas. If i had said all the things you said, I’m sure no one would’ve believed me.Even still, I’m sure many people will argue vehemently with you. All the years of propaganda since WWII about greek superiority, will take sometime to be undone. But you’re the second person that comments here that at least realizes that there are some problems. So there is hope to be had.
    Personally, I have first cousins who were born in greece, and thats why so many things are almost like first hand knowledge to me, about the plight of immigrants.
    Hopefully the deep crisis greece is in right now will help people finally see whats going on. Or they’ll blame immigrants once again and the cycle which has gripped the balkans will carry on. I’d like to think positively though.

  41. According to greek police immigrants are responsible for

    -49.46 % of robberies
    -50.87 % of thefts
    -37.57% of homicides
    -48.36 % of rapes

    When 10 % of the population is responsible for alomost half of the heavy crimes,i’m sorry but there is a serious problem.

  42. @K-Rose
    Care to provide a link for your findings? Even if the police really gave out those statistics, they should be taken with a large grain of salt. If statistics for the EU can be doctored to the tune of billions I wont even consider looking at what the greek police stats say. This is not to say that there are no problems with the immigrants here, but they are not different than problems with greeks who are jobless. The problem is joblessness not immigration. I think we as a society in greece are in denial and have some of the most corrupt politicians in EU and this has to change or change shall be forced upon us.

  43. @K-Rose.

    Even if those stats are true, which i highly doubt (someone who can lie to EU authorities will lie to anyone), those things are true in all countries that have gone through similar experiences, and for all immigrants. If you wanna be a country that accepts large amounts of immigrants, then you better be ready to accept the responsibility that comes with that. True, greece didn’t ask for immigrants, but it didn’t deport them back either. If you deport a few, they’ll stop coming. But instead greece kept them there, with their official status in limbo, gained from their cheap labour, and then scapegoats them for every ill of greek society.If they’re all such bad criminals I’m surprised most of them are going on 15-20 years living in greece. You can’t have it both ways; you cant keep them and not deal with the changes they bring to your society, and blame them for structural problems which were their before.
    USA and Canada (my home) are immigrant countries, accept a lot of them and were pretty much built by them. But after theyre accepted the government takes responsibility and assures that the social life doesn’t deteriorate as a result. As we say here: Man up to your responsibilities!

  44. @point74:”Citizenship is a human right and it cannot be denied by referendum.”
    We are not talking revoking it, which would be a violation(and this is why such an irrevocable decision should be approved by a popular vote); we are talking granting it which is a different thing.
    Your position is absurd: Why of all countries should Greece be the one to grant citizenship to all the citizenship-less(actually they still have a citizenship, they just left their country of origin). Why not all countries collectively? why not the US, Russian, China?
    “There are cases of second generation immigrants not having a citizenship anywhere in the world, neither in Greece nor in their parents country.”
    This is by choice of their parents. Why is it a problem of Greece in particular? What you are talking here is you save someone, take them in your house, then they make a case that they co-own the house!

    “First generation immigrants also deserve rights (like the promised vote for the municipal elections)”
    Who promised them that? because as a citizen I do not recall ever making such a promise!

    “You just can’t justify having second class citizens in a society for whatever reason, not in this age and time anyway.”
    Illegal immigrants are NOT citizens. They do not have the same rights or obligations. They did not have to do a military service, why should they have the same rights? I have lived and worked in a number of countries. Should I also have had a vote there cause I lived there for 10 years? Go tell Americans that!

  45. @miraculous:
    “2) Ancient times there were only turkoalbanians? ”
    Can you read English?? I say “As far as the revolutionaries were concerned”. What part of this don;t you get, that by 1821 there were moslem turkalbanians and christian arvanites who had nothing in common with turkalbanians. Ancient times means some 500-300 years before Christ. Epiros had a King, (Pyrros”pyrrhic victory”) who had a number of fights with the Romans. In no place is he or anyone else referred as ‘Albanian’. Get a grip!

    “First of all, that law is a remnant of medieval times in switzerland, and if you speak to a few average swiss people they’ll tell you how stupid and outdated that law is.”
    Bull! The Swiss have referenda and they can change this law if they really thought it stupid.

    “Second, switzerland hasn’t expelled and massacred people of a different ethnic background and mother tongue, and thats why it is what it is today.”
    Unlike… Albania?

    ” Greece is actually pretty close to the complete opposite.”
    Wow! Whom did Greece expell and massacre? Unless you mean turkish occipiers?

    ” You’re comparing a country that denies any people of a different background have ever lived in it, to a country that recognizes and cherishes its ethnic diversity.”
    Who denies this? Sure, Turks (+ forcibly converted) have lived in it, and a number of others, like Venetians. What’s your point? You want to speak for ‘ethnic origin’ on behalf of Greek citizens? Did anyone appoint you to speak for them?

    ” A peoples that are oppressed asking for independence is hardly a precedent set by kosovo.”
    Again, what don’t you get? Kossovo precedent is that borders can change. Whether Kossovo Albanians were there since 1913 or since the beggining of time is irrelevant; once you are a citizen, it does not matter what your origins are-all citizens have the same right.

    “A kosovo case could’ve happened in greece as well with chameria, but the greek government took care of that, exactly for fear of this happening.”
    What are you smoking? What Greek government? Are you referring to the Nazi scums responsible for mass excecutions of greek villagers duing the occupation? Chams left in 1944, after they got a taste of their own medicin at the hands of EDES, a partizan organization. Greece HAD no government in 1944. The government in Greece was your friend Adolf, to whom your Cham nazi scum can complain if they thing they were wronged and not allowed to keep their holy plan of cleansing the area!

    “5) As for this case, albanians have committed many crimes in greece, but a lot more of them haven’t! ”
    Agreed. Albania opened the jails when Alia’s regime fell and also the military depots when the pyramid scheme came crashing down during the first Berisha term. I was the one who pointed out Greece’s fault in one of the recent case. But the point is that a)Greece must be tougher, not more lenient on immigration to prevent criminal elements and b)it remains to be shown that the benefits outweigh the risks. Because there are real victims as a result of the increased criminal activities. When the borders opened, people who were public contractors were very happy to get cheap labor; the rest were unhappy to have to buy alarm systems(if they could afford them). Part of the problem is due to greek authorities inefficiency and/or criminal neglect. But while this will take a lot of time to fix, victims are for real!

    “How many media are focusing on the immigrants that came to greece, learned a brand new language, have children that excel in the school system (better than greek children in many cases), open successful businesses, work jobs that greeks dont want to do, etc etc?”
    You’re completely wrong on this!

    “As for your recent examples of crime, I read on the news (just recently as u did), that a greek woman walked into a maternity and stole the baby of an albanian couple! So should we say that greeks are criminals now?”
    If you had bothered to read my post, you would see that my point is that we need tougher restrictions and screening, just like other countries, like Canada and the US do. I never branded any nationality collectively as criminal. But just like for example greek statistics fudging reflects on me(and a number of openly racist articles have appeared in the european press), in the same way Albanians get a bad rap because of these criminals.

    ” Criminals are criminals, in any nationality, and they carry out their “business” with no regard for borders.”
    Agreed 100%.

    “In closing you said: Basically it says: We give them citizenship and passports, so they can go to other EU countries!”

    Read again! This was a newspaper article. Readers were outraged at this idea because it
    is even worse cheating than fudging statistics!

  46. @chris
    USA, Russia and China dont have 10% or more of their population made up of immigrants with no status. Greece does, and thats why greece should find a solution, to a problem that greece has.
    Clearly you have something to fear and are insecure. What co-owning the house? What case are turks in germany making of co-owning germany? You do realize that EU citizens can come to greece from anywhere in the EU; arent you afraid some irishmen will eventually make a case that they co-own your house?

    “Illegal immigrants are NOT citizens. ”

    Really? Since they’re so illegal, why don’t you send them back then? The problem would be solved.
    Also, are children that were born there illegally born as well? If so, send them back too I guess.

    If you give them citizen status, they will have the obligations that come with it too. Go and ask naturalized americans, if they don’t also have the obligations as well as the rights that come with being american(since you’ve lived and worked there). America has a president that is the son of a black african immigrant, and you’re trying to draw a parallel between greece and america? Please get serious!!

  47. @nikolas:
    ” I am greek and workf for amnesty international here”
    Ok, I see.

    “I can tell you that for each crime comitted by the immigrants here, there is at least one comited by our police forces towards the foreigners here.”
    …because this is what you would like reality to be

    “Greek society like most balkan societies is deeply racist”
    … again because this is what you would like reality to be, you don’t need to explain anything. Really, speak for yourself. Did anyone appoint you to speak for greek society?

    ” and it still has to come to terms with ideas of superior greek superiority especially towards her neighbours”

    Superior superiotity! What a concept!

    “Our police is one of the most brutual”
    Have you ever been in another country? Like Germany? The US? The police has to
    a)sit there and listen to any wacko psychopaths call them pigs and murderers. The law says if this happens to a citizen, the offender must be arrested. Yet the police just sits there. Try saying these things to a US or german cop.
    b) police are shot and have been injured or killed as a result of completely unprovoked attack.
    The points: First, when your life is in danger, you tend to be less friendly. Second, you cannot attract quality people to the police because quality people do not wish to risk their lives and have to take all this abuse for peanut pay. And you have a number of critics who sit on their couch and just critisize. If you believe police are not doing their job right, the solution is simple: become a cop yourself and then show them how the job is done right. Meanwhile the others can sit on a couch and critisize your actions!

    “and immigrants are beatten up in horrendous ways by policeman and never investigated.”
    Never investigated?

    “Also the proportion of crimes committed by immigrants in comparision to locals is negligent but most newspapers want to report them whenever an immigrant is involved.”
    Answeed already: Look up jails

    ” The majority of crimes that were investigated by my team where immigrants were involved was because they were employed by locals illegally , not paid for the work done, and having no recourse to the greek judicial system as they dont have papers they returned to viloence against their employer.”
    This has also happened with many greeks. Working without a contract relies on trust.

    “i am ashamed to say this but greek society is much more like similar to balkan societies than european, let alone switzerland”
    Please speak for yourself. Greek society is very varied. You will find many different attitudes and styles. Just like we make no comments aboy this or that nationality being bad, stop making stupid racist remarks, or keep them to characterize yourself.

  48. @chris
    Who said anything about pirro? You get a grip. Clearly you’re feeling threatened, because you’re trying to anticipate what I’m going to say it seems. I never had any intention of mentioning him or going that far back. I was curious as to how someone can refer to the 1800s as “ancient times”. Thats all.

    “Bull! The Swiss have referenda and they can change this law if they really thought it stupid.”

    Yea and turnout in those referendums is 60% on a good day. It’s bull that just a few weeks ago TIME had a piece saying how switzerland was democracy gone crazy, with their option to have referenda on everything. But anyway, doesn’t change the fact that its an outdated law that’s a remnant from previous centuries.

    “Wow! Whom did Greece expell and massacre? Unless you mean turkish occipiers?”

    That depends. Depends on whether you read world history, or greek history. I realize that everything changes in greece. I’ll let you run a google search, or encarta, or britannia or even wikipedia. You seem to know how to read, and seem to have a good grip on english; so you shouldn’t have a problem understanding what the search results will return.

    “Who denies this? Sure, Turks (+ forcibly converted) have lived in it, and a number of others, like Venetians. What’s your point? You want to speak for ‘ethnic origin’ on behalf of Greek citizens? Did anyone appoint you to speak for them?”

    No, but neither were you. If we were going to speak only on what authorized by some body of decision making, then no one would ever speak here. Even this piece wouldn’t have been written by the author, if that was the case. You need to realize that people have a right to express opinions.

    “Again, what don’t you get? Kossovo precedent is that borders can change.”

    Really? No borders ever changed before 2008? Wow how empty human history just got. What you don’t seem to understand is that borders change, and then they also change back some 8 or 9 decades later. Also, in Europe pretty much every nation’s case is a special case, so there is no precedent. ICJ will probably say the same thing. So greece shouldn’t worry about its borders.

    “The government in Greece was your friend Adolf, to whom your Cham nazi scum can complain if they thing they were wronged and not allowed to keep their holy plan of cleansing the area!”

    I already touched upon earlier about how there is greek history and world history, so i wont get into that. What i will say is that “your friend Adolf” is completely uncalled for and irresponsible of you to say. You don’t know me, and you certainly don’t have the right to put me in the same category as people you label as “nazi scum”. If you want to keep things serious, and have a serious debate, fine, if not then just don’t reply to me rather than being a degenerate. I’ll leave it at that.

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