WHO IS THE GREEK CITIZEN?
Status of the Greek nationality from the creation of the Greek State till the down of the 21st century
Vivliorama Pub. Athens, 2012, p. 308, (17x24cm) ISBN 978-960-8087-99-6, 20€ order form: http://www.bibliorama.gr/book.asp?cid=379
“Who is the Greek citizen?’’ is par excellence an open question. A question that has been giving ground to semantic contradictions and different political apprehending, stimulating - in turn - further questions: Which are the criteria that have been used to define “who is the Greek citizen?” during the last two centuries since the emergence of the modern Greek nation-state in 1821 and until today? Have those criteria been stable in time or shifting? And if they have been shifting, how often do they change and why? What similar criteria of membership in a political community can they be compared with? Which have been the decisive factors that enabled non-Greeks to become Greek citizens? Who was included in, and who was excluded from such processes of citizenship granting and acquisition? What have been the expectations of the state from its citizens? And to what extend is citizenship overwhelmed with ideology?
This book deals with such questions and proposes a short route in the history of the Greek nation through citizenship’s perspective, while pointing out recent challenges. It shows that questions about citizenship resonate with themes and issues beyond the narrow legal bond between state and the individual, and can further our understanding about the community and the polity itself.
’Who is the Greek citizen?’’ is a question worth to be posed, especially today when the country undergoes a period of extreme uncertainty and political cruelty. A question that, by all means, has had and still has a great impact on the destiny of people with a ‘genuine link’ to Greece; even - or mostly - during the country’s most difficult times.
The book consists of the introduction and eight chapters including reflective suggestions for a reorientation of the Greek citizenship strategy.
The structure traces the history of the Greek citizenship regime divided in periods. It starts by examining the references to the ‘citizen’ in the Revolutionary Constitutions’ (1821-1823), and closes with analysis of the latest legislative reform of the Greek Nationality Code, in 2010. The index of each chapter, apart from offering an overview of the long-term conjunctions of Greek citizenship, also unearths the strategies of exclusion or inclusion existing behind or besides the legal facts and the official political discourse and decisions. The motive for following this approach has been the different ‘mottos’ used in citizenship law ‘you are born Greek’ and ‘you become Greek’; mottos that have variably been persistently present in all forms of applications confirmations or rejections of citizenship.
The introduction locates Greek citizenship as the “thing” in question, within the realms of conceptual history and legal – political theory. It presents the infrastructure of the research module and critically maps the relevant essential literature, in order to set the boundaries for obtaining the highest semantic clarity of the object under examination: “Greek citizenship”.
1. The century of inclusion
The first chapter starts from the period before the establishment of the Greek state, and ends, a century later, with the Greek-Turkish war (1822-1922) that signaled the demise of the “Great Idea” vision. The main characteristic of that period is an open citizenship model formed upon the idea of inclusion. During a period of Greek territorial expansion, this served the intention of including as many people as possible in the Greek polity. That is why, during the first century of the Greek citizenship regime, i.e. ‘the century of inclusion’, the dominant perception was that one - primarily - ‘becomes Greek’.
2. The period of fall back
The second chapter continues from the day after the population exchange with Turkey in 1923, and by following a complex web of shifts and changes concludes at the end of the 20th century. It was then when the Greek citizenship reforms, changed priorities and strategies. Instead of being mainly preoccupied with the question ‘how to make Greek citizens’ the emphasis shifted towards how to give Greeks those necessary virtues for becoming “good” citizens. The inherent failures of this processes led to withdrawal of citizenship of the “not virtuous” citizens such as political dissidents and individuals belonging to national minorities. This was the “period of fall back” in the history of the Greek nationality (1923 – 1984/1990/1998)
3. The era or reorientation
The third chapter poses a question to the emphatic certainty that ‘you can be only born Greek’, that became institutionally dominant before ‘era of reorientation’ . The chapter overviews the first cracks in such certainty generated by events like the introduction of gender equality principles to Greek nationality laws in 1980s or the introduction of “nationality definition” processes regarding former Greeks living abroad, processes that transformed the Greek passport, into a “valuable” document. Such events reflect the dawn of a new reality of the unstable post-war era in regards to the Greek citizenship regime
4. Post-cold war contradictions regarding the ethnic Greeks abroad (homogeneia)
The fourth chapter continues and particularizes the question on whether one is actually ‘born Greek’ in the aftermath of the Cold war. The chapter explores the case of the immigration of ethnic Greek groups from Albania and the former Soviet Union to Greece. Greeks from Albania started acquiring Greek nationality only after residing for at least 15 years on Greek soil, whereas Pontic Greeks from the USSR were almost immediately granted the Greek nationality upon their arrival. Behind those blatant ‘post - Cold War ethnic contradictions’ a hard raison d’état is lurking, while ethnicity becomes a strong point in the agenda.
5. Emigrants: “once a Greek always a Greek”.
The fifth chapter focuses on emigrant’s citizenship status. On this terrain, Greece – a par excellence diasporic nation - has gained its own unique place in the international map of citizenship regimes. The Greek obsession with jus sanguinis led to a paradoxical situation, where citizenship did not reflect a vital bond with the county itself. This chapter offers a comparative outline of the legislation of other European countries and an overview of international theory literature on emigration and citizenship, so as to point out Greek peculiarities.
6. A persisting restrictive approach to migration and citizenship: the new Nationality Code of 2004
The sixth chapter, brings once again forward the motto ‘you can be only born Greek’ through references to the Greek citizenship laws related to immigration in the late 1990’s. The chapter explains why the new Greek Nationality Code which was elaborated in 2004 was not a breakthrough. The new code remained restrained behind patterns of controlling immigration flows, appearing to be not only in contrast to similar experiences of other European nations comparable to Greece, but also resisting a realistic approach to the new facts.
7. The future of Greek citizenship after the 2010 reform: ‘You are born and become a Greek’
The seventh chapter refers extensively to the imminent future of Greek Citizenship after the implementation of the latest nationality reform in 2010. That year, the question ‘who can be a Greek citizen’ provoked a public debate triggering tensions of an unprecedented degree. The chapter presents the main points of the reform via the motto ‘you are born and you become a Greek’. The implementation of this reform has been a hot issue with uncertain - still - results, during a period when Greece has entered one of the most politically unpredictable and vicious moments in its recent history, upon a complex macro-economic juncture and in light of the turmoil of a possible Greek default.
· Dimitris Christopoulos is an assistant professor at the Department of Political Science and History of Panteion University of Social and Political Science in Athens (dimitrischristopoulos.blogspot.com)