Discriminatory Denationalisations Based on Ethnic Origin: The Dark Legacy of Ex Art 19 of the Greek Nationality Code
MIGRATION, DIASPORAS AND LEGAL SYSTEMS IN EUROPE, P. Shah, W. F. Menski, eds., pp. 107-125, London, Routledge-Cavendish, 2006
20 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2011
Date Written: June 6, 2006
Ex Article 19 of the Greek Nationality Code (GNC, Legislative Decree (Law) 3370/1955) was a provision applied from 1955 until 1998. It provided for the denationalisation of ‘citizens of different [non-Greek] descent’ (‘alloyenis’, as opposed to ‘omoyenis’, that is, ‘of the same [Greek] descent’) who left Greece ‘with no intent to return’. It was a provision that followed a long relevant historico-legal tradition in Greece by which this relatively young (1832-) state attempted to rid itself of a host of members of ethnic or ‘politico-ideological’ groups viewed by the state as dangerous to the country’s wished-for homogeneity, or even its territorial integrity.
The end result of ex Article 19 GNC was the denationalisation from 1955 to 1998 of 60,004 Greeks ‘of different descent’ (‘alloyenis’) and the consequent creation of a significant number of stateless persons. The overwhelming majority of these persons were Greeks of Turkish origin (officially recognised by the Greek state as belonging to the ‘Muslim minority’) who used to live, or still live as stateless persons, in the region of western Thrace (north-eastern Greece) and who were originally protected by the 1923 Lausanne Peace Treaty. As shown in this paper, ex Article 19 GNC was an overtly racially/ethnically discriminatory provision and the relevant state practice violated the peremptory rule of international law regarding ethnic/racial equality, thus entailing Greece’s international responsibility. At the same time, it gave rise to a number of serious violations of international and European human rights and nationality law.
The present chapter focuses ex Article 19 GNC viewing it as a test case that may provide an analysis of the position of ethnic minorities in Greek nationality law and practice, especially through the discriminatory use of the dichotomy between ‘omoyenis’ and ‘alloyenis’ Greek nationals. It also attempts to point to some of the major relevant issues that have arisen from this arbitrary denationalisation strategy in the context of contemporary international and European human rights and nationality law.
Keywords: discrimination, ethnic origin, minorities, Greece, Turkey, nationality, denationalisation, human rights
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