Revised citizenship bill sent to coalition leaders

Deputy Interior Minister Haralambos Athanassiou said on Friday that a revised version of a citizenship bill for migrants has been given to the leaders of the three parties in the governing coalition, New Democracy, PASOK and Democratic Left (DIMAR).

Athanassiou was responding to a question submitted in Parliament by DIMAR deputy Maria Giannakaki. He said that the bill had two or three variations from the original draft but that consultations were underway to hammer out legislation that «will respond to real needs and be durable.”

The minister noted that the easy solution for the government would have been to introduce a legal provision, deeming as unconstitutional the original citizenship law drafted by former socialist Interior Minister Yiannis Ragousis in 2010. But, Athanassiou said, the government recognized the existence of a «social problem» that must be tackled as regards second-generation migrants who were born in Greece.

Birth in Greece will not be adequate to qualify for citizenshp, he said, noting that education was a «fundamental criterion.»

Athanassiou had said in March that migrants living legally in Greece will need to have studied at a Greek school for at least nine years to qualify for naturalization, instead of the six years demanded by current legislation.