NEWS

Issuing of residence permits is lagging

Greece is lagging far behind a timeframe set by the European Union for issuing some foreigners living in the country with long-term residence permits, Kathimerini has learned. The process of issuing these permits should have begun in January 2006 but was only started in September 2006 and, according to recent records obtained by Kathimerini, only one long-term residence permit and five of indefinite duration have been issued by Greek authorities. The EU wants migrants who are long-term residents in one of the member states to have their permits renewed automatically every five years. One of the conditions for being issued with such a permit in Greece is that migrants have to take language lessons and pass a Greek test at the end of their course. However, Kathimerini understands that the process is being hampered by a lack of facilities. Local and school authorities in Piraeus, for instance, refused last month to provide any classrooms for the lessons to be taught, even though two-thirds of the costs are covered by EU funding. Migrants applying to take the language courses are also required to pay a fee of 900 euros – a charge that is being examined by the Council of State as it is not stipulated by the EU. The head of the Hellenic Migration Policy Institute, Alexandros Zavos, told Kathimerini that anyone failing the course would have to pay another 900 euros to take the classes again.