Migration and Struggle in Greece

Posts Tagged ‘Political Parties’

Citizenship bill made stricter

Posted by clandestina on 5 February 2010

source kathimerini

Citizenship bill made stricter

Second-generation immigrants who are hoping to obtain Greek citizenship under the new law proposed by the government yesterday discovered that the conditions for doing so are going to be substantially stricter than had originally been announced.

PASOK submitted the revised bill to Parliament yesterday and it soon became apparent that some of the draft law’s provisions have been tightened up following a period of public consultation during which there were many objections to what some people regarded as the ease with which citizenship would be awarded.

Under the new provisions, a child born in Greece to immigrant parents will need to have had both his father and mother living in the country legally for five years before he or she can apply for citizenship. Originally, only one parent would have had to be a legal resident.

Also, the children will have to prove that they have spent at least six years in Greek schools rather than the three years originally proposed by the government.

In another major change to the initial plans, applicants will also need to produce recommendation letters from three Greek citizens.

The proposed law would still allow second-generation immigrants to vote in local elections and to stand as city councilors after obtaining citizenship and proving that they have a good command of Greek.

The Interior Ministry estimates that the bill would allow more than 250,000 people to join the electoral register after gaining citizenship. Interior Minister Yiannis Ragousis said that the imminent law would apply to any immigrants who obtained legal status up to January 2005.

Despite the stricter measures contained in the new bill, New Democracy still criticized the draft law for being too lax. “Every immigration measure that the government has announced so far constitutes the lowest threshold anywhere in Europe for awarding citizenship to immigrants,” said ND spokesman Panos Panayiotopoulos.

Meanwhile, the Church of Greece’s Holy Synod said it believes the bill does not effectively tackle the country’s immigration problem.

“The citizenship bill does not directly respond to the immigration problem, so the state has to carefully study the conditions under which citizenship will be granted,” the statement read. “At the same time, though, it has to approach the immigration issue with seriousness, taking into account the sensitivities and particularities of certain parts of our homeland and the possible effect it will have on the general population.”

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Government on Citizenship for Second Generation immigrants

Posted by clandestina on 23 December 2009


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.

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The rise of anti-migration discourse in Greece

Posted by clandestina on 20 July 2009


The rise of anti-migration discourse in Greece

Background information on the rise of anti migration discourse in Greece in the context of the forthcoming bordercamp in Lesvos.
A personal report from K.

Since the beginning of the campaign for the European elections, there was an evident effort to bring to the forefront the question of migration as a security threat. First, it begun with scattered reports in the free press about Greek trendy multicultural bars and restaurants closing down because of rising health ang hyigene hazards in areas with large migrant populations in the centre of Athens. It then turned into a more serious preoccupation with the “downgrading of historical centre of Athens” because of rising numbers of migrants – in particularly Muslim ones. This contributed to the rising popularity of the extreme right-wing group Chrisi Avgi in certain regions of Athens like Agios Padeleiomonas, where a committee of concerned citizens closed down even the local play ground because “there were too many mothers in scarfs there”. In several regions of West Athens the systematic violent racist attacks against Paksitani migrants by neo-Nazi groups have intensified. Police “scooping operations” have become an everyday occurence. In addition the municipal and national police all over Greece have engaged into a not so new project of systemactially terrorizing migrant petty traders, treating them violently, arresting and imprisoning them, and confiscating their goods.

The European elections brought the ultra right wing party LAOS (meaning “the People” – but also abbreviation for Popular Orthodox Alarm) to the fourth place for the first time. The vast majority of its voters are male aged 18-35. LAOS made a very open anti-migrant campaign based mostly on issues national identity, security and migration control. The main arguments of the campaign were that Greece cannot support any more foreigners, that migrants are a threat to national security and cohesion, criticizing the other parties for their lack of a real policy of preventing migrant influxes and deporting illegal migrants. During the campaign, the leader of the party, Giorgos Karatzaferis, met with Greek Roma representatives making the claim that if Greece is a country that cannot even provide for its own destitute citizens – like the Roma- it is impossible to support all those migrants that have “swamped” it. Because at the moment none of the leading parties PASOK (first in the European elections) and Nea Dimokratia (government) seem to be able to have the necessary majority in case of national elections (which are most likely to take place next March if not sonner), there is a lot of speculation about a cooperation of LAOS with Nea Dimocratia. The leader is a former member of ND anyhow.

But what is even more important is that the agenda that LAOS has set has been adopted by several institutions and politicians across the political spectrum. As a result, migration in official disocurse is now discussed amost exclusively according to the terms set by LAOS. The Minister of the Interior anounced that he was going to create a migration detention centre in the outskirts of Athens in order to put inside all illegal alliens and clear the centre of Athens, while all illegal migrants caught at sea will be held in a special boat which will act as a floating detention centre in internatioanl waters. In a TV debate, the Minister of Foreign Affairs claimed that her party lost because they ignored the security of citizens being threatened by migrants, while a spokesperson for the opposition argued that Greece should push EU institutions to accept that the Greek borders must be protected by all European forces and not just Greece, pushing Turkey to accept the burden for all these illegal flows. Even the spokesperson for the Greens said that a real policy of “sending people off” should be implemented in order to deal with the problem of refugees in Patras. Public discourse in general has turned and is more likely to turn towards an even more anti-migration direction with nationalist fears of Turkey sending Muslim migrants to Greece and refusing to respect readmission agreements in order to undermine Greek national identity being uttered daily in public.

From my personal experience in an occuppied municipal building, even independent left wing people (mostly over 50s) have emerged with anti-migration arguments of the short: “I am not a racist but there is a limit to how many migrants Greece can handle”, “It is OK with people like the Albanians who have families and have integrated, but when it comes to Muslim men like the Pakistanis or the Africans we cannot accept living together”.

There is a lot of contradiction and ambiguity of course – but overall this is the picture I have.

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Eurofortress Elections: anti-immigrant legacies…

Posted by clandestina on 19 May 2009

Government and Opposition parties (Nea Dimokratia and Pasok) compete in hypocricy, resorting to the scant residues of pretexts.  After the Euroelections the parliamentary ones will come, the Opposition will be government… The anti-immigrant legacy will be in good – and familiar – hands, no worries… Bilateral aggreements, bilateral crimes.

This is a mix of Kathimerini and ANA-MPA articles…


PASOK leader George Papandreou yesterday slammed the government’s immigration policy as a complete failure, as Alternate Interior Minister Christos Markoyiannakis heralded the creation of a separate body that would oversee the management of the center of Athens, which a growing number of illegal immigrants are making their home.

Papandreou was speaking in Patras after visiting the coast guard at the local port, close to where hundreds of migrants have set up a makeshift camp as they wait for the opportunity to board ferries for Italy.

“In Patras, we can see the complete failure of the government’s policy on illegal immigration,” said the PASOK leader.

He accused the government of lacking a clear policy on who should be granted asylum, of failing to develop a coherent policy on how to assimilate migrants in Greek society, of not ensuring the proper protection of the country’s borders and of being unable to reach bilateral agreements to secure the repatriation of some migrants.

Papandreou said he has ascertained “the full and overall failure of the governmental policy on the issue of illegal migration and on refugees”, adding that the result of that policy was hardship and suffering for the local societies, and downgrading of the lives of migrants and refugees, as well as hardship on the Harbor Corps employees.

He said that “a serious government should have done six things, which have not been done”, elaborating that the country today lacks: serious guarding of its borders due to a downgrading of the Harbor Corps with respect to means and staff; a clear-cut policy on how and who is categorised as a political refugee and who is sent back; a clear-cut policy on how to incorporate the legal migrants and refugees into the Greek society and economy; and a clear-cut policy on boosting the guarding of the country’s ports so as to send a powerful message to all the illegal immigration rings that Greece will not be a gateway for illegal immigrants to the rest of Europe.

Further, Greece has not activated its bilateral agreements with neighboring Turkey that provide for the return of all illegal immigrants coming to Greece via Turkey which, Papandreou said, PASOK had implemented when it was in government.

Also, the establishment of immigrant/refugee camps only worsened the situation rather than solved the problem, adding that the problem can be solved by a serious government through cooperation in the European Union.

“This problem can be solved by a more serious government that is capable of working with the European Union,” said Papandreou.

The government responded by announcing that it would be adopting a plan put forward by Athens Prefect Yiannis Sgouros to create a body that would coordinate the work of various services, including the police, in the so-called historic center of Athens.

Markoyiannakis gave no further details about how or when this body will operate but he told Skai Radio he has plans to increase the police presence around Omonia Square, where the crime rate has reached alarming levels. It is also the site of an abandoned court building where over 500 migrants are squatting.

Markoyiannakis added that there are plans to move a methadone center from the area, which many locals believe is the cause of the drug-related crime in the neighborhood.

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