Israelis ask Greek president for restoration of citizenship

Papoulias tells Greek Holocaust survivors he would look into returning passports to descendants of Jews who lost citizenship in 1930s.

July 12, 2011 02:30
1 minute read.
Greek President Karolos Papoulias

Greek President Karolos Papoulias 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Karolos Papoulias, Greece’s president, told a group of Greek Holocaust survivors Sunday night he would look into returning passports to the descendants of Jews who lost their citizenship when they left their native country in the 1930s.

Among the Jews who lost their citizenship were hundreds of port workers who came from Salonika to Haifa to build the port there.

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Some of the descendants of these workers, as well as the descendants of Greek Holocaust survivors, are keen on regaining the Greek passport because it would enable them to live and work in the 27 EU countries. In recent years thousands of Israelis have sought European passports – primarily German – on the basis of their parents’ or grandparents’ ancestry.

The Greek passport issue came up in February when a delegation from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations met with Greek leaders before coming to Israel for their annual conference.

At the time, Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Dollis was reported to have announced that Greek Jews whose citizenship was revoked would be able to reclaim it, something that – judging by the request made to Papoulias on Sunday – has not yet been implemented.

Papoulias met at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem with the group of 10 Greek Holocaust survivors – at their request – soon after arriving Sunday evening. He is scheduled to visit Yad Vashem on Tuesday.

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