ANNOUNCEMENT IN RELATION TO STATEMENTS
MADE BY THE GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER
December 23, 1998
Greek Foreign Minister,
The response below was published in the Thessaloniki newspaper, Aggelioforos, on the 24th of December, 1998. Excerpts were published in Eleftherotypia, Avgi and Nea Anatoli. In addition excerpts were also published in Agence France Press.
On the subject of statements made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, Theodoros Pangalos, on the occasion of his recent visit to the Republic of Macedonia, that "there is no Macedonian minority in Greece," that "RAINBOW won only 1700 votes," that "it [RAINBOW] is a collection of Slavomacedonians, Stalinists and homosexuals," that "thoughts on the existence of a Macedonian minority in Greece are expressed by intellectuals sick in the mind," etc., RAINBOW addressed the public with the following announcement:
Florina - Lerin: December 23, 1998
Mr. Pangalos' statements demonstrate once again the immaturity in certain circles in the Government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece to understand that modernization and Europeization of Greek society produce attitudes on guaranteeing and respecting minority rights of a portion of the state's citizens different from attitudes and political positions from the past.
The existence of a nation or national minority does not depend, to the satisfaction of all, on someone claiming its existence or non-existence, but it is a reality that can be accepted or rejected by anyone, depending on the size and ability of their minds (not the body...), as well as on the education and messages sent by society to its citizens. Topics such as the diversity of the citizens, politics and ideas expressed by politicians or intellectuals of a society cause the citizens to think and act positively or negatively. It is precisely these things that determine the progressive or conservative character of that society. European societies today reject totalitarian thoughts such as those of the Greek Foreign Minister, because they know full well that they lead to fascist and racist ideologies, resulting in corresponding actions.
We regret that the Greek Foreign Minister offends not only himself, but also offends a large portion of Greek society that thinks and acts in a democratic manner.
Knowing that national minorities in the Balkans have been used in the past and may be used in the future as factors in the destabilization of states, RAINBOW has declared many times (and acted correspondingly) that national minorities should refuse to become a subject of international antagonisms and interventions in the internal affairs of the countries of their residence. Also, minority policies should be such that they appease the passion and fear of the majority of the people who may believe that the exercise of minority rights has the ultimate goal of changing international borders.
In this framework, RAINBOW tries to collaborate (even in elections) with organizations, parties and individuals who accept and recognize the existence of the Macedonian minority in Greece, seeking to contribute to the construction of a common European home and considering minority issues as having great importance for the development of political democracy in the country, a thought the Foreign Minister cannot or would not understand.
RAINBOW has participated twice in elections in Greece. According to official results from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Greece: In 1996 in the national Parliamentary elections it won 3500 votes in an election collaboration with the OAKKE party. In 1994 it participated in the European Parliament elections on its own, and won about 7300 votes. Although the existence of an ethnic minority does not depend on the number of votes won by a party through which a portion of the minority population expresses itself, as the Minister mentions numbers, we take the liberty to ask him:
If the Greeks in Turkey, in Istanbul, on Imvros and Tenedos (small islands in the Aegean sea) numbering less than 2000 people, have the right to be a Greek national minority in Turkey (just the RAINBOW voters alone represent a greater number...), then why is it that thousands of relatives of Macedonian political emigrants, declared non-Greeks by the Greek state itself and denied repatriation (is that not an indirect recognition of the existence of a Macedonian minority in Greece?), are denied the right to be a Macedonian minority in Greece?