To which benefits is a holder of an identity card for "Aliens of Hellenic Descent" entitled? Are holders of this card considered citizens of Greece? If the holder of the card has left Greece and taken up residence in a foreign country for a length of time, is he or she still able to return to Greece so long as the card remains valid? What requirements must one satisfy to obtain and renew such card?
The Consul of Greece to Washington, DC summarized the benefits and requirements relating to the Identity Card for "Aliens of Hellenic Descent":
He stated that a Presidential Decree issued in December 1997 codified this measure, mainly intended to provide some sort of status for the Albanian nationals of Greek descent living in Greece at that time. The provision allows nationals of foreign countries of Greek descent who reside in Greece to apply for the identity card. An individual must have a residence in Greece, though there is no length-of-residency requirement, and to be able to prove that he or she is of Greek descent. The Consul stated that there are no specific limits to "Hellenic Descent" – for example, an individual with one Greek grandparent could qualify – however every case is examined individually to determine whether the status will be granted.
Applications are made to the Office of the Foreign Ministry and will be examined thoroughly; the process may take six months or more. The identity cards are issued for a term of five years. The Consul stated that because this provision is only a few years old, he is uncertain as to how the renewal process will work.
Holders of the card are granted the right to live and work in Greece, and, more importantly, receive pensions and state medical health care and other services. Holders of the identity card are considered to be citizens of their country of nationality and not considered citizens of Greece. Cardholders do not have the right to vote in elections. The Consul stated that should a foreign national holding this card leave Greece and reside in another country for a length of time, he or she would be allowed to return to Greece so long as the identity card remains valid (Embassy of Greece 18 May 2000).
This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the RIC within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.
Consul. Embassy of Greece, Washington, DC. 18 May 2000. Telephone Interview.
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