Voters with ‘special needs’

Yesterday’s meeting on measures to assist repatriated ethnic Greeks is merely another election campaign strategy aimed at boosting the ruling party’s influence on certain sectors of the population. Everything that improves the lives of repatriated Greeks, Gypsies or the Muslim minority, facilitating their assimilation, is positive. Giving 0.5 percent of places at Greek universities to Muslim minority students has stemmed their flow toward Turkish universities and forced them to learn Greek. Also positive is the optional teaching of Turkish at state-funded local high schools, as it will attract more Muslim pupils who now attend minority schools where Turkish is the main language, making their graduates unable to attend Greek universities. However, the decision to make kindergartens bilingual is excessive and will only lead to confusion. There are objections to the changes being considered in the way muftis are appointed and the committees who administer Muslim community property. The issue is linked to the Turkish Consulate’s attempt to control the Turkish minority and to encourage separatist tendencies, so it calls for caution. Finally, the government’s apparent intention to give Greek citizenship to immigrants en masse is not without other aims. Perhaps there is enough time for immigrants to vote in the next elections, but they will in the next. Giving northern Epirotes (ethnic Greeks from Albania) citizenship without sufficient guarantees entails the risk that they could lose their Albanian citizenship and rights to their inherited properties. For the time being, ethnic Greeks’ identity documents should be upgraded to be almost equal to that of Greek citizens. As for other immigrants, citizenship should be accorded more easily than it is today, but always selectively, since the Greek State is an ethnic entity and in the midst of a region where nationalist prejudices, and tensions, prevail.