The Greek citizenship law reform of 2010 has been officially annulled by the Council of State as the law was considered unconstitutional. Being born in Greece of parents living in Greece for at least 5 years (both parents), having arrived in Greece at an early age and having studied at a Greek school for six years, having lived in Greece for 7 years and being a long term EU resident… all these requirements have been considered by the majority of the Council of State judges as “formal” requirements that do not prove a real “bond” of the naturalising foreign citizen with the “nation”. One wonders what does this bond consist of really? and how can one create if the above are not enough? will then 10 years of legal stay or 9 years of schooling as the current government proposes be enough? is it a matter of time? or is the real matter: discretion! that the Council of State judges want to reinsert high discretion in the system.
Who is then to decide who is a real Greek? it will certainly not be the Constitution as such but the occasional member of the “Citizenship interview committees”. The 2010 law kept these committees in place but opened them up to academics (and not just public administration officers) while it also restrained their role from absolute to circumscribed discretion. The 2010 law was introducing transparency and fairness to the Greek citizenship policy and the process thorugh which naturalisations were decided.
This annulmment is as bad as it can be since it also annulls all the citizenship decisions made between 2010 and 2012 (not many, less than 3,000 in a 10-year plus resident population of more than 60,000, and a total non EU resident population of 600,000 according to the 2011 census data). In the meantime the growing number of children born of foreign parents in Greece is growing… But that does not seem to be a concern for the Council of State judges who are eager to preserve the ethnic purity of the nation apparently (since the whole debate does not touch upon migrants of Greek ethnic descent who continue to naturalise through preferential channels. They have the correct pedigree it seems as this is what it is all about, a pedigree not a real bond with the nation. The only ray of light in this dim development is the views of a minority of State Council judges that pointed out that the 2010 law conferred citizenship to long term residing immigrants making them citizens of the Greek state, as it should, without necessarily making them “omoethneis”, i.e. coethnics. At last somebody realises that one can be a Greek citizen, subject to requirements, while not being a member of the Greek nation. maybe at least this is a starting point for a reflection… particularly in a country that has hundreds of thousands of members of the imagine community of the nation who are citizens of the USA, Canada, Australia, France, Britain, Sweden, etc..