NEW YORK – The staff of the Consulate General of Greece in New York has been inundated with requests every day, since, due to European travel restrictions, going home to Greece has become a bit more complicated, bureaucratic affair for the Greek-American community.
Requests for appointments and phone calls are raining down, with consular authorities being called in to serve hundreds of citizens who either want the necessary travel documents or are looking for travel options.
“What is happening is truly unprecedented. We have hundreds of requests from Greek citizens for the issuance of a certificate of Greek citizenship, while dozens of others, third-country nationals, are requesting an exemption from the restrictive measures for various reasons,” Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras told The National Herald, on the morning of July 13 when 17 people (!) were waiting to enter the Consulate General at the same time, indifferent to the COVID-19 restrictions.
As TNH has repeatedly stated, the certificate of Greek citizenship is the document, which allows Greek citizens, holders of an American passport, who do not have a Greek passport, or a Greek identity card of the new type bearing their name and in Latin characters, to travel to Greece. The procedure for issuing this certificate is relatively simple, it is done electronically, without the need for the interested parties to come to the offices of the Consulate General.
Consul General Koutras once again advises citizens to take advantage of the convenience of the online service via the Consulate General’s website and, if it is possible to satisfy the requests remotely, to avoid coming to the Consulate General, as congestion and overcrowding increase the chances of COVID-19 transmission, even if the visitor is asymptomatic.
The Value of the Greek Passport
It took a circumstance, such as that of the pandemic and the – surprisingly – extended restrictions, in order for the Greek-American community to become widely aware of the usefulness and value of the Greek passport.
“What we urge Greek-Americans to do is to settle the pending issues regarding the declaration of registry events and consequently the acquisition of Greek citizenship. Then, and only then, will they be able to apply for a Greek passport. Acquisition of Greek citizenship is a prerequisite for obtaining a Greek passport,” said Koutras, who, several years before the pandemic, urged Greek-Americans, holders of only a U.S. passport to obtain a Greek one, if they met the conditions.
Freedom by the End of July?
Meanwhile, the “Gordian knot”, may be resolved, albeit slowly, by a decision of the Greek government before August, according to government spokesman Stelios Petsas.
In particular, on July 13, Petsas said, for the first time, that Greece is considering lifting the ban on U.S. citizens by the end of July, opening the U.S. market for the rest of the summer. It will be preceded by Britain (July 15) and Sweden (July 22).
The government spokesman pointed out that in this case a COVID test would be required up to 72 hours before a passenger boarded the plane. All this depends on the course of epidemiological data in Greece, which the government is closely monitoring.
It should be noted that Delta and Emirates airlines have currently removed direct flights from the U.S. to Athens from their schedule.