What’s up with citizenship statistics?

Since 2016, Generation 2.0 RED started officially requesting on a regular basis citizenship statistics from the Central Citizenship Directorate of the Ministry of Interior, in order to elaborate them and then present data that were not published at that time by the Ministry of Interior. The purpose was to collect and present a clear picture of the system for granting citizenship and inform people who apply for it. In the same context, the newly established Special Secretariat for Citizenship, from November 2018, proceeded with the gradual publishing of statistical data, declaring its intention to update them every quarter. 

While the Central Citizenship Directorate was regularly sending the data we requested and published statistics by itself, from June 2019 it stopped responding to our requests and publishing data on its website. The Ministry’s response all this time to our organization, was that the problem is due to the non-renewal of the information system and the understaffing of the relevant department for the processing and management of statistical data. However, it has not officially informed the public about this. For more than a year now, we have repeatedly sent letters to the Central Citizenship Directorate requesting data on pending requests, the average waiting times for the processing of applications, the number of decisions and staff per citizenship directorate. However, we did not receive any response to our consecutive requests, which were sent on 03.06.2019, 11.07.2019 and 06.01.2020. An exception is the reply to our last letter dated 27.08.2020. The answer to this, however, is incomplete, because the most important data are not disclosed, such as the number of pending requests and the time of application’s processing.

Also in relation to the publishing of statistics, it should be noted that in June 2020, after a period of one year, the Ministry of Interior finally published the following data on its website:

  1. The total number of persons who have acquired Greek Citizenship, as well as the number of rejections and revocations of decisions per category for the year 2019 (published on June 30, 2020, updated in November 2020)
  2. The total number of acquisitions of Greek Citizenship for the period 2011-2019 (published on July 07, 2020, updated in November 2020)
  3. The total number of acquisitions of Greek Citizenship for the year 2019 per category and Regional Directorate of Citizenship (published on September 7, 2020, updated on November 19, 2020).

In any case, these data are not considered as sufficient to draw safe conclusions and to have a comprehensive picture of the system for granting Greek citizenship. Critical information is still not available, such as the number of requests per year and service, the specific batch of applications each citizenship directorate is currently processing and the number of employees per service. Beyond the framework of transparency, the publishing of these data is particularly important, as they could give an answer to the extreme delays in granting citizenship to the second generation as well as in the process of naturalization of foreigners. According to the data so far, which are the result of our communication with the heads of the citizenship directorates, in some cases the delay for the issuance of a decision reaches 4 years in the case of second generation citizenship applications, while naturalization interviews are conducted up to 5 years after the request is made. It is obvious that without these data the information is incomplete and above all, the basic question and right of interested applicants is not answered, which is, at what stage is the granting of their citizenship. 

Anyway, as Generation 2.0 RED, we expect the Ministry of Interior to immediately publish all the statistics that have been pending for so long. It is the state’s responsibility to ensure the basic transparency framework and to provide a complete picture of how the procedures for granting Greek citizenship to the children of migrants and foreigners through the naturalization system proceed. There is no space for further delays.