A Memorandum of Cooperation was signed on Thursday, 7 April, at the Ministry of Interior between Interior Minister Makis Voridis, Secretary General for Citizenship Athanasios Balermpas, and UNHCR Representative in Greece Maria Clara Martin.
The Memorandum of Cooperation refers to the continuation of cooperation between the Ministry of Interior and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in relation to acquisition of citizenship by refugees and stateless persons, as well as for the prevention and reduction of statelessness, through legislative or other initiatives. The Memorandum foresees the exchange of information and knowhow, as well as the provision of technical and operational support in the above areas.
In his statement, Mr. Voridis stressed that the Ministry of Interior has established a modern, merit-based, fair, and totally transparent naturalization process, fully harmonized with procedures established by western societies. In parallel, he expressed his interest in facilitating stateless people to apply for Greek citizenship.
UNHCR Representative in Greece Maria Clara Martin stated: “For stateless persons, who are invisible, naturalization allows them to become citizens, with rights but also with obligations. For refugees, becoming a citizen of the country where they have found protection, is the ultimate success of integration, and allows the country to better benefit from their skills, knowledge and enthusiasm. 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”.
For his part, Secretary General for Citizenship Athanasios Balermpas noted that a joint working group has been created and UNHCR has selected the General Secretariat for Citizenship to present the new naturalization system to third countries that have shown an interest as an example of best practice.
Note on UNHCR’s #IBelong Campaign to end statelessness
Today millions of people around the world are denied a nationality. They often aren’t allowed to go to school, see a doctor, get a job, open a bank account, buy a house or even get married. In 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, gain full access to their human rights and enjoy a sense of belonging in their communities. The #IBelong Campaign is supported by a Global Action Plan, which sets out concrete steps for States to help resolve the problem. For more information please visit: http://www.unhcr.org/ibelong/