13 November, 2007
The Hestia Programme, a complete action program for the adjustment and social integration of third country nationals living in Greece, was presented on Monday by the interior and public administration ministry.
The program’s completion coincides with the establishment of a Migration Policy and Social Integration General Directo-rate that will participate in policy planning for the social integration of third country nationals, Greek expatriates and other vulnerable social groups.
Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos noted that this is the first complete action program drawn up in Greece focusing on the social integration of immigrants living legally in the country, thereby filling the immigration policy void observed for more than 10 years. The program is aimed at consolidating social cohesion by accepting diversity and displaying respect for human rights, he stressed.
Based on ministry figures, the Greek regions with the biggest concentration of immigrants are Attica prefecture, central Macedonia, Peloponnese, Crete and southern mainland Greece.
The countries of origin are Albania (58.22 percent), Bulgaria, (7.56 percent), Romania (4.49 percent), Ukraine (4.32 percent), Georgia (2.71 percent), Pakistan (2.48 percent), Russia (2.40 percent) and Moldova (2.19 percent).
Most legal immigrants have a work permit (61.2 percent) followed by residence permits for purposes of family reunion (20.5 percent), independent financial activity (0.5 percent), marriage to a Greek (1.9 percent) and seasonal work (0.1 percent).
The program will be funded by national resources and the newly established European Integration Fund. The funds allocated are: 1,527,626.75 euros in 2007, 2,063,575.78 euros in 2008, 2,371,000 euros in 2009, 2,550,000 euros in 2010, 3,132,000 euros in 2011, 3,827,000 euros in 2012 and 4,275,000 euros in 2013.
Hestia Program actions concern all third country nationals living in Greece legally with a special attention to the young, elderly, women and children or other vulnerable groups, such as refugees and human trafficking victims. It is a highly decentralized program and local government is called to play a major role in its implementation.
The program’s objectives are to record the existing situation in all integration sectors, reflect the European reality and determine the national strategy priorities for an effective immigration policy. A main priority is cooperation with the countries of origin and the association of the migration phenomenon with development and progress in all sectors.
Source: Athens News Agency