ATHENS – The number of Albanians with residency permits in Greece has dropped dramatically with some 131,268 heading to wealthier countries between 2021 and 2022, although 291,686 have stayed.
Albanians are by far the biggest group of foreigners living in Greece, at one point in 2021 making up 63.07 percent, lured by better living conditions and the proximity to their country on the border.
In a report that also cited The Voice of America (VOA,) the Albanian newspaper Tirana Times said they still make up 61 percent of the foreign population, according to the Greek Ministry for Migration and Asylum.
The big drop, the report said, isn’t due to the difficulty in getting residency permits and renewing them but with better salaries and prospects in other European Union countries although Greece’s economy is growing again, even during the waning COVID-19 pandemic.
Many Albanians who lived in Greece for years have recently emigrated to the countries of northern Europe and to Britain after difficulties in Greece with employment and rising prices, the report added.
The 2022 number also includes about 13,329 Albanian citizens who have been given the special designation “homogeneous” in their ID cards, identifying them as members of the Greek minority from Albania.
Albanian citizens with that designation make up 67 percent of foreigners who have been granted this status, according to reporting by VOA.
Tthere could be more than half a million Albanian-born people in Greece as well as their children that are eligible for Albanian citizenship, but many have received Greek citizenship over the years and no longer counted as foreigners among a population of about 11 million people.