‘Greek is the one who embraces the Greek education”- The hypocrisy of the Greek State
Lately it seems that to become Greek it requires a little more than just to have been born and raised here. A month ago it was brought to our attention that in order to become Greek prerequisite was at least to be accepted into the NBA draft because obviously anything less than that just doesn’t quite cut it . To have finished High school here or graduate from university just isn’t enough. Likewise, to have lived, worked and be creative here apparently doesn’t seem to suffice! So based on this then, why on earth should citizenship be given to a doctor or a plumber or even a musician or teacher of migrant origin when they are not going to make us nationally proud abroad?
Because of course according to the logic of the day, the children born and raised in Greece of immigrant parents are not worthy of being called Greek. On the contrary though are all those who are willing to invest in Greece or those who bring home medals from the Olympic Games despite speaking a word of Greek! And all of this at a time when they are trying to convince us that Greek is ‘one who embraces the Greek education’. How much more hypocrisy can we take?
Of course only when a second generation teenager was chosen at number 15 in the NBA draft did the problem raise its ugly head (yet again) for the State. And so, what to do? Here we have a teenager who fulfilled all the requirements to acquire citizenship according to Act 3838 but the Act is in the air! However, this is no ordinary teenager! He is 2.07m in height, can play any position on a court, can handle the ball in ways envied by the top basketball players, can dunk while facing backwards, and above all, all 30 NBA teams and the rest of the planet are talking about him! Now it is in our interest to make this teenager and others like him Greek. But, alas, there is no Act anymore!
I honestly wonder how many tranquilisers the Prime Minister took when he realized that as well as the problems of EPT, the TROIKA and the strikes, he now, yet again, had to deal with the problem of citizenship. But was it not terminated for good(sic) when the State Council canceled the provisions of the Act 3838 relating to access to citizenship for the second generation? Antonis Samaras, (both as leader of the Opposition and as Prime Minister) together with his party, fought the Act 3838 and when they succeeded in its cancelation, Giannis appeared. And here begins the theater of the absurd. “Samaras made Giannis Greek” cry all the channels. They reproduced the news as if the Prime Minister had done Giannis a favor. Samaras is neither an emperor with the power to make anyone anything, nor is “Greek” a noble title. Giannis was and is Greek, and neither Samaras nor the media “made” him. And then, of course followed the invitation to the Presidential Residence, Axion Esti, photos and congratulations on how very proud he made us nationally (!). Hypocrisy in all its glory!
There are 200,000 children like Giannis; the only difference being that they are not in the list of the NBA. And above all there is his brother who missed his chance for the NBA draft, because he did not have Greek citizenship. So, is this what separates those who can become Greek, from those who cannot? For us the answer was no and remains no. And for this reason, we chose to do something about it.
Generation 2.0 is the answer to all those who believe that children of migrant origin are not Greek or that they are so different to Greek children. Our collective consists of both Greek and migrant origin children, in other words it consists of the New Generation of Greek Citizens.
As a collective we started a campaign to collect signatures and inform the world about the issues migrant origin children face in Greece today. Legally and socially invisible, these children are deprived of basic rights, including that of the right to access citizenship. In most EU countries and even further afield, children of migrant origin are guaranteed the right to citizenship once they meet some basic requirements. To have been born, raised or educated in a country are considered sufficiently objective criteria in order to be eligible to access citizenship, except of course in Greece. The Greek criteria are considered neither sufficient nor objective, as opposed to the individual discretion of the officials in the Ministry of the Interior, which was considered by the State Council as objective enough to grant citizenship to these children. The thing is though that at the moment in Greece there are about 200,000 children born and raised in the country not only without citizenship but mainly without the right of access to it. The State denies them basic rights, turning people who were born and raised in Greece into foreigners (formally and substantively).
To all Greeks and non Greeks. The campaign of Generation 2.0 is run electronically (www.ithageneis.org) and aims to publicize this problem both in Greece and abroad.
What we are fighting for is our right to be recognized as equal citizens of the country where we were born and raised. All of us, regardless of whether we are in the list of the NBA or not. Because if an American list is an indicator of Greekness, then, unfortunately, we are probably being taken for a ride!
Nikos Deji Odubitan & Andromachi Papaioannou, Generation 2.0 members