How many credentials do they need for naturalization?

Tomorrow, Wednesday 14/04/2021, a draft law of the Ministry of the Interior entitled “System of Interior Control of the Public Sector, Integrity Adviser in public administration and other provisions for public administration and local government” is discussed and voted on in the plenary sessions of the Parliament. Within this draft law, which clearly provides administrative issues -and has no relevance or connection to the procedures of citizenship- there is a provision concerning a significant modification of the conditions for exemption from participation in the examinations for the Certificate of Knowledge Adequacy for Naturalization (greek abbreviation: ΠΕΓΠ).

The right of exemption from the examinations is granted to those who have received the Greek education adequately and therefore do not need to be re-examined for the Certificate of knowledge of the Greek language and knowledge on the other subjects. In other words, those who are interested can submit a naturalization application right away with the other supporting documents without having to provide the certificate of knowledge.

The adequacy of Greek education is considered, until today, the successful attendance of either three classes of secondary education or a bachelor’s/master’s/PhD from a Greek university. Therefore, those who have studied either only in the gymnasium or only in the lyceum or in the Greek University have the right to be exempt from participation in the examinations for the Certificate of Knowledge Adequacy for Naturalization. The article 52 of the draft law provides for the restriction of this right in respect of the years of study in secondary education, as the successful attendance of three grades will no longer be sufficient but the successful attendance of all six grades of the gymnasium and the lyceum, or nine grades elementary school and the gymnasium is required. This is therefore a severe tightening of the current provisions.

It is necessary to recall that the condition for attending six classes of secondary education had been attempted to pass since last October in Law 4735/2020 for the new naturalization system. At that time, as Generation 2.0 RED, we had indicated our opposition,  among others, to this provision both in our comments to the public consultation and in the statement we had sent to the competent Committee of the Parliament. Eventually, the original provision was amended with legislative improvement and the condition of successful attendance of only three grades of secondary education -either gymnasium or lyceum- remained in order for somebody to be excluded from the examinations of ΠΕΓΠ, as defined in the previous Law 4604/2019.

As we unfortunately realize, this legislative improvement was completely pretentious. Now, the Ministry of Interior is taking back a provision before the new examination system is even implemented for the first time. This tightening is another proof that the General Secretariat of Citizenship does not intend to recognize the high level of integration of many people who have already received Greek education. First with Law 4735/2020, they abolished the exemption from the exams of those who hold national certificates of Greek proficiency and now they increase the number of classes of attendance in the Greek school.

So what is being questioned here, so that the three years of Greek secondary education and the official certificate of Greek language are not adequate? The Greek education system? The adequacy of state certificates of Greek proficiency? Both? How many public education systems and exams will one have to go through to prove to the Greek state that they know Greek language, geography, history, culture, and political institutions?

To these questions the general problems are added, such as the level of difficulty and the type of questions that the database provides, as well as the sloppiness in the organizing of the new naturalization procedures, since -one month before the first exams-  there are still no concrete instructions and clarifications.

Therefore, we do not see how the new naturalisation system will be ‘fast, transparent and objective’, as the Secretary-General of Citizenship repeatedly stated before the enactment of Law 4735/2020. On the contrary, the new system, as we see it being shaped, looks more like a minefield that puts constant obstacles to people who have lived in the country for years and are fully integrated into our society.