OSCE Implementation meeting on Human Dimension Issues
26 October - 6 November 1998, Warsaw
Section 12, Central Hall
The RAINBOW party "RAINBOW" - (VINOZHITO) - Organization of the National Macedonian Minority of Greece was represented by Mr. Pavlos Voskopoulos. His presentation of November 3, 1998, is given below:
Mr. Moderator, ladies and gentleman,
I am not happy today because I must accuse my country, but I believe as a citizen of Greece and as a European citizen that this will be helpful toward the further democratization of my country.
The existence of national minorities is not recognized in the Republic of Greece. The Turkish minority is recognized only as a religious minority, while the Macedonian national minority is not recognized as an existing entity. Although national minorities are not recognized, their members are persecuted on a national minority basis.
A policy of brutal assimilation of the Macedonian ethnic minority is underway by legislative measures and court prosecutions. The public use of the Macedonian language and alphabet is prohibited, as well as their use in the education system.
Court prosecutions are undertaken against the members of the two national minorities, concerning activities in connection with the promotion and protection of their national and cultural identity.
The state allows, sometimes even encourages, the mass media, church authorities and para-state institutions to oppose members of national minorities (the Turkish and the Macedonian) in order to terrorize and politically discredit them.
In addition to the aforementioned measures, ethnic cleansing of the Macedonian minority is done in a perfidious manner, by taking away one's citizenship through legalized discrimination under Article 20 of the Law on Citizenship of the Republic of Greece.
Selective immigration and transplantation is done in the regions of Western Thrace and Macedonia were the Turkish and Macedonian minorities live in order to create animosity and tension between the indigenous national minorities and the general population. At the same time the repatriation of Macedonian political refugees forced to flee Greece as children during the Greek Civil War (1946-1949) is still prohibited.
We demand the unqualified recognition of the two national minorities, Turkish and Macedonian, the abolition of all measures by which the discrimination is enacted and the cessation of all politically motivated court prosecutions. We demand the removal of these discriminatory policies targeting national minorities, in accordance with international norms and the European Framework Convention for the Rights of National Minorities.
We usually speak about the policy of states against minorities but we do not often talk about the policy of the national minorities themselves.
Our organization believes that the policy of national minorities in the Balkan countries should be to remove any fear among the general population that these minorities wish the gradual change of existing borders or that the demand for rights is just a pretext for this.
National minorities should not be subjected to manipulation and interstate antagonism nor to become a reason for the meddling by one state into the affairs of another. Minorities should cooperate and help deepen the ties with the constituent nation and with all nationalities that live in the state. In this way they will become a powerful factor for peace, cooperation and friendship in the Balkans and Europe.
National minorities in the Balkan states should make use of the positive examples of the European experience and aim for the gradual union of all European countries with respect for minority rights and the overcoming of national prejudices and antagonisms.
A request from our organization is that experts from international and European institutions, such as the OSCE, perform a scholarly research on the rights of national minorities in the Balkan countries and prepare a comparative study on the situation of these national minorities.
We appeal to the Greek government to begin a dialogue with members of the Macedonian national minority in Greece according to the European Framework Convention for the Rights of the National Minorities which, unfortunately, is not yet ratified by Greece.
Thank you all for your attention.
Following this the official Greek position was expressed by Mr. Katapodis.
Mr. Katapodis declared that in Greece there is no such thing as a Macedonian minority.... The population in North Greece is Greek with the exception of the Muslim minority... He also added that the RAINBOW party received only 330 votes in the parliamentary elections in Greece. Mr. Katapodis said that this number was very small and if we are talking about minorities we should talk about a couple of thousand people.*
After Mr. Katapodis's presentation the members of the RAINBOW party were obliged to submit a written correction stating: "The RAINBOW party (VINOZHITO), states the following:
The RAINBOW party participated in the elections for the European Parliament in June, 1994, receiving 7236 votes. This number is the official result as given by the Greek Ministry of the Interior. We regret that the Greek delegate, Mr. Katapodis, incorrectly stated that we received only 330 votes."
Finally we should add that at this forum, for the first time, an unofficial meeting took place between the members of the Greek delegation and RAINBOW. The meeting was held after the presentations and at the request of the Greek delegation.
For further information on the OSCE meeting please see Greek Helsinki Monitor: Greece: Report on Greece to the 1998 OSCE Implementation Meeting - Minority Rights (28/10/1998)