To the Editor:
You have an excellent newspaper Ethnikos Kirikas and for that I congratulate you. In the past ten years, I have written you two letters with a request for your opinion and assistance. I never got a response in your column or a letter of rejection. The two questions I asked your editors to discuss were: Is double citizenship (Greek, USA) legal considering the oath taken? Do the banks in Greece have the authority to refuse a request by the owner of the bank account to withdraw their monies or close the account? This happened to my son and for the last eight years (since 2009) his monies are still in limbo.
Reporting the news, addressing the issues, discussing some weird laws that relates to the omogenia can be very important and an opinion, commentary or investigation report is needed. I hope the second time around you will see my point and respond to my request or questions.
Gus Mouhlas, MD
St. Clairsville, OH
P.S. Renewing my subscription in the next 3-4 weeks is questionable.
Response to Questions on Dual Citizenship and Greek Banks
Thank you for your letter. The delay in responding to your questions is due to the high volume of correspondence we receive every day in regular mail and emails from readers of both the Greek daily and English weekly print editions and from both the Greek and English websites. Our readers, their questions and opinions are extremely important to us and bolster our commitment to independent journalism and reporting on the issues that mean the most to the Greek community.
In response to your question concerning the legality of dual citizenship (Greek-U.S.) we refer to the Unites States Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs which states on its website:
“The concept of dual nationality means that a person is a national of two countries at the same time. Each country has its own nationality laws based on its own policy. Persons may have dual nationality by automatic operation of different laws rather than by choice. For example, a child born in a foreign country to U.S. national parents may be both a U.S. national and a national of the country of birth. Or, an individual having one nationality at birth may naturalize at a later date in another country and become a dual national.
“U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one nationality or another. A U.S. citizen may naturalize in a foreign state without any risk to his or her U.S. citizenship. However, persons who acquire a foreign nationality after age 18 by applying for it may relinquish their U.S. nationality if they wish to do so. In order to relinquish U.S. nationality by virtue of naturalization as a citizen of a foreign state, the law requires that the person must apply for the foreign nationality voluntarily and with the intention to relinquish U.S. nationality. Intent may be shown by the person’s statements and conduct.
“Dual nationals owe allegiance to both the United States and the foreign country. They are required to obey the laws of both countries, and either country has the right to enforce its laws. It is important to note the problems attendant to dual nationality. Claims of other countries upon U.S. dual-nationals often place them in situations where their obligations to one country are in conflict with the laws of the other. In addition, their dual nationality may hamper efforts of the U.S. Government to provide consular protection to them when they are abroad, especially when they are in the country of their second nationality.
“U.S. nationals, including dual nationals, must use a U.S. passport to enter and leave the United States. Dual nationals may also be required by the foreign country to use its passport to enter and leave that country. Use of the foreign passport to travel to or from a country other than the United States is not inconsistent with U.S. law.”
As for the refusal of a Greek bank to allow withdrawal of funds or the closing of a bank account, your son should probably try again since he may simply have attempted the withdrawal or closure of the account at a bad time. When the financial crisis was at its peak, there were restrictions on how much money could be withdrawn to prevent a “run on the bank” that would have caused further damage to the Greek economy. Also, depending on the amount, the bank may simply not have had the funds on hand at that time and/or required either more time or certain paperwork to be filed before the account could be closed. It may also depend on which Greek bank you are specifically referring to, since each one may have its own rules for withdrawals and for closing accounts. With the proper documents and identification, there should be no reason for the bank to refuse a request to withdraw funds or close an account. The idea that the funds are “in limbo” is not technically the case. When you open a savings account at a bank, the bank pays you interest on the money that you deposit and leave in that account. The bank then loans that money out to other people, only they charge a slightly higher interest rate on the loan than what they pay you for your account. If everyone removes their money from the bank during a financial crisis it can be disastrous for the economy.