New citizenship test is all Greek to everyone

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There is much to wonder and laugh at in the database of questions (https://exetaseis-ithageneia.ypes.gr/#topics) compiled by the Interior Ministry for the exams foreign nationals need to pass in order to qualify for Greek citizenship. Some are so ridiculous, you can only ask whether the people who thought of them should be stripped of their Greek citizenship on the grounds of ignorance.

For example, what were those Interior Ministry masterminds thinking when they came up with question 47 in the Culture section: “Identify the ‘television couples’ from Greek cinema,” followed by two lists of actors’ names, male and female. Mysterious are the ways of Minister Makis Voridis. And who can possibly remember whether just six governments survived their full terms between the restoration of democracy and the present, as question 38 in the Politics section claims?

Another wonderful question is number 48 in the Political Institutions section: “Which combination of agencies is responsible for maintaining Greece’s road network? A) Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, concession companies, regional authorities, municipal authorities; b) Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, traffic police, regional authorities, municipal authorities; c) Interior Ministry, Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, Ministry of Development and Investment, municipal authorities.”

So many questions spring to mind, like: Does Infrastructure and Transport Minister Kostas A. Karamanlis even know the combination? Shouldn’t “All of the above and then some” also be an acceptable answer? After all, anyone who wrote something like that would be showing a profound understanding of how things work in Greece. Every Greek citizen knows of the snarl of agencies and jurisdictions involved in anything related to the state, meaning everything.

Does the ministry really believe that any member of the general public knows exactly who is responsible for pruning trees near electricity cables? Government officials were unable to answer that question during the blackouts in February brought on by heavy snowfall, but the Interior Ministry expects some Syrian refugee to know? If any of the people sitting the exam does know the answer, we should consider giving them a ministry at once.

Taken in a different light, maybe the Interior Ministry’s question database is the best way to gauge whether someone seeking Greek citizenship has adapted to Greek reality. All they have to do is memorize the answers to 550 questions of the type: “Which four regional units in Greece do not have a coastline.”

Candidates with the “Greek-smarts” and the means will take private preparation classes at one of those schools that may not teach pupils anything essential, but do teach them marvelous tricks for memorizing reams of useless information and rattling off entire essays verbatim. By doing so, the candidates will fulfill Isocrates’ maxim: “Greeks are those who have a Greek education.”

Published in eKathimerini.com 7.5.2021