Greece Will Upgrade ID’s, Improve Passport Security Too

Αssociated press

FILE - In this Wednesday, March 7, 2018 photo, a passenger shows his Greek passport at Frankfurt airport, Germany. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

ATHENS - Greek passports, rated sixth best in the world based on how many countries can be visited with needing a visa - but still subject to forging - are due for an upgrade along with plans for more security identity cards for Greeks.

The Greek Police (ELAS) are seeking bids for a new electronic system that will issue new, safer ID cards to meet the standards and technical specifications of the European Union, said the state-run Athens News Agency.

Bidders will have to show they have issued similar security documents to at least two more EU states. With the new system, the new ID’s and other documents will meet the recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the EU.

The EU is pushing for an overhaul of ID issuing system to target terrorism and curb the spread of fake documents. As a member-state of the EU, Greece has been obliged since 2000 to upgrade its ID cards but has yet to overhaul the current system.

The cost of upgrading existing ID cards is estimated at around 80 million euros ($89.87 million) it was also reported.

Despite the strength of Greece’s passports, so many were being forged that Greeks in 2017 flying into German airports were taken out of line for further scrutiny and checks, including New Democracy Conservative leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Mitsotakis, leader of the New Democracy Conservatives, said he and fellow passengers from Greece were put under severe scrutiny just because they were Greeks as Germany continued screening even though both countries are part of the Schengen agreement allowing free travel between European Union countries.

“I felt humiliated as a Greek when I was taken into a different terminal and waited for 20 minutes to have my passport checked,” Mitsotakis then told an event at the Bruegel think-tank in Brussels on Responsibility to Reform Europe.

A German newspaper said stepped-up security checks of passengers from Greece were being done because of an increasing number of forged passports and documents allegedly being used by refugees and migrants trying to reach other European Union countries which closed off their borders to them.