Greece, like most European countries, does not give automatic citizenship to children born in the country. And becoming a naturalized citizen is a long, difficult process: Greece makes it harder than almost any other country in the European Union – only Austria is tougher. It’s also the only one of the original EU 15 that makes no special provisions for children born to immigrants in the country. Members of the Greek diaspora, in contrast, can get a passport easily.While much can be done to improve the existing legal framework, I am fundamentally in agreement with the basic principle of jus sanguinis, citizenship by descent, rather than jus soli, citizenship by birthplace.
How should one become a Greek citizen? This is an elaboration and amendment of my earlier thoughts on this matter:
- The offspring of a Greek citizen are Greek citizens.
- Non-citizens may be naturalized by Law passed with increased Majority of 2/3 of the Parliament. (General provisions should be made for persons of Greek origin, although individual persons of non-Greek origin who rendered extraordinary service to the Nation should also be allowed to become citizens).
- Spouses of Greek citizens become permanent residents, and may become Greek citizens after ten years of marriage and demonstrable knowledge of Greek language and culture. They cannot, however, confer their citizenship to offspring from non-Greek mates (as in #1)
- Legal immigrants have renewable residence permits (for work, study, etc.) of specific time length.
- Legal immigrants may obtain permanent residency (of unspecified time length) after 10 years of immigrant status and demonstrable knowledge of Greek language and culture.
- Children found in Greece become Greek citizens; if they are claimed by their non-Greek parents before the age of 18, then the provisions of #7 apply to them.
- Children educated in Greece are allowed in the country for the duration of their studies, and become permanent residents thereafter.
- Illegal immigrants may not be legalized within the country; they may apply for legal immigrant status after departing from Greece.
I believe that such a system is flexible enough to facilitate honest legal immigrants in their everyday life. On the other hand, it also ensures that the Greek citizen body will always consist of ethnic Greeks and their descendants.