Ministry of Interior and UNHCR sign Memorandum of Cooperation on statelessness prevention and citizenship acquisition issues

UNHCR Representative in Greece Philippe Leclerc (left), UNHCR Associate Protection Officer Petros Mastakas (left), Interior Minister Alexis Charitsis (right) and Special Secretary for Citizenship Lampros Blatsiotis (right) sign the Memorandum of Cooperation. © Yiannis Heliotis

A Memorandum of Cooperation was signed today at the Ministry of Interior between Interior Minister Alexis Charitsis, Special Secretary for Citizenship Lampros Baltsiotis, and UNHCR Representative in Greece Philippe Leclerc.

The Memorandum of Cooperation refers to the close cooperation of the Ministry of Interior with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the exchange of knowhow as regards the acquisition of citizenship by all those entitled to it and, most importantly, to eradicate statelessness in Greece. It also foresees the further development and intensification of this cooperation in areas of technical and operational support, as well as capacity building activities for the staff of the Special Secretariat for Citizenship.

In his statement, Mr. Charitsis stressed that the Ministry of Interior has made a significant effort since 2015 to regulate these issues in a way that reflects a State governed by the rule of law, such as Greece. To this end, a draft law will be submitted to parliament soon, which includes a series of amendments relating to the simplification, acceleration and harmonization of procedures so that the acquisition of citizenship is carried out through a uniform and transparent process.

UNHCR Representative in Greece Philippe Leclerc stated: “Greece has made significant progress over the last years in further aligning its legislation and administrative practice with international standards in the field of citizenship acquisition, prevention and reduction of statelessness. UNHCR is implementing a global 10-year action plan (2014-2024) to end statelessness and we are confident that the Memorandum signed today will support the competent Greek authorities to further engage in this direction, especially in relation to accession to the 1961 Convention on the reduction of statelessness ‘.

The Special Secretary for Citizenship stated: “Our goal is to further improve the position of Greece in combatting statelessness. The cooperation with UNHCR is not only at institutional level, but also refers to implementation and administrative practice. In the last two we have achieved a steady progress. At an institutional level, we see positively, in principle, the accession of the country to the 1961 Convention on the reduction of statelessness and we finalize the institutional framework for the stateless Greek Roma.”


Note on UNHCR’s #IBelong Campaign to end statelessness

On 4 November 2014, UNHCR launched its #IBelong Campaign to End Statelessness by 2024. Statelessness is a man-made problem and relatively easy to resolve and prevent. With the necessary political will and public support, millions of people around the world could acquire a citizenship and prevent their children from being born stateless. The #IBelong Campaign is supported by a Global Action Plan, which sets out concrete steps for States to help resolve the problem. By acquiring a citizenship, millions of stateless people around the world could gain full access to their human rights and enjoy a sense of belonging in their communities. In 2019 the Campaign will mark its mid-point and UNHCR will hold an event to showcase achievements and to collect pledges by states to prevent and eradicate statelessness. For more information please go to: http://www.unhcr.org/ibelong/