NEWS

Migrants to get long-term permits soon

Immigrants who have been living in Greece legally and have been renewing their annual residence and work permits for the past five years will soon be eligible for open-ended residence permits, Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis said yesterday. This is expected to become EU policy with a directive soon and Greece will adopt it retroactively. As a result, most of the migrants who have been living in Greece legally will be eligible for such permits in two years. Family reunions will also soon be possible as the relevant directive has already been discussed by EU bodies and is expected to be adopted during Greece’s presidency in the first half of 2003. Skandalidis said the Greek presidency will promote another two directives, one involving adjustments for salaried work and the other on favorable treatment and residence permits for the victims of migrant smuggling, especially children and women. Skandalidis and his deputy minister, Lambros Papadimas, made the announcements at the first meeting of Greece’s Migration Policy Institute (IMEPO) in Athens yesterday. The institute will advise the State on migration policy and will be involved with the operational program for migrants in Greece. This has been prepared by a team at Panteion University headed by Professor Panayiotis Yietimis. The four-year program will cost 260 million euros and is expected to begin in 2003. The money will come from annual residence permits that will cost 150 euros (50,000 drachmas), funds from the state budget and the EU. The program’s priorities are the creation of information and counseling networks; the creation of job opportunities; improved education and health services for migrants, including preventive medicine; and the creation of an infrastructure for the reception and temporary housing of migrants. The aim, IMEPO President Foteini Tsalikoglou said, was «to combine vision with realism.» Skandalidis said a council of eminent figures would be set up «to mediate between Greek and foreign public opinion.» Film director Costa-Gavras was appointed the first of these figures.