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Greece votes to grant citizenship to immigrants' children

25 june 2015, 12:14

The Greek parliament on Wednesday voted in favour of a law to grant citizenship to immigrants' children who were born and raised in Greece, an issue unresolved for generations, AFP reports.

The law, presented by Greek Immigration minister and human rights activist Tasia Christodoulopoulou, was passed with support from the governing radical left Syriza party, as well as the social-democratic Pasok and centre-left grouping Potami.

In contrast, the main opposition centre-right New Democracy, as well as the neo-nazi Golden Dawn voted against the bill as did the smaller right-wing group Independent Greeks, part of Syriza's coalition government.

This marked the first time that Independent Greeks voted against Syriza since their coalition came to power on an anti-austerity platform in January.

"What should we tell all the migrants is that, despite the difficulties, stay in Greece and want their children to become Greeks?" Christodoulopoulou said in a speech to parliament. 

"That their children are migrants? They are not. Their only homeland is Greece."

Alexandra Zavos, lecturer at the University of Pantion and specialist on migration issues, said the law marked an "important step" for Athens.

"The vote of this law is a really important step that breaks off the xenophobic and unfair decision of the council of state," Zaos told AFP.

"It resolves a problem that for years has not been solved."

The parliamentarians voted 179 favour of the law in principle, and 106 against, while there were 16 abstentions.

The proposed law will now be examined in greater detail this week.

Xenophobia has been mounting in Greece, one of the main illegal entry points into Europe, as the recession-wracked nation's debt crisis drags on.

The neo-Nazi, anti-immigration Golden Dawn party is now the third largest in parliament.

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