LETTER OF REQUEST TO THE GREEK PRIME MINISTER
December 10, 1998
Greek Prime Minister,
Florina - Lerin 10.12.1998
To: The Prime Minister of the Republic of Greece
Dear Mr. Simitis,
Since Greece signed the Framework Convention for the Rights of Minorities in the Council of Europe last September, and because we believe that it will be ratified by the Greek Parliament soon, we would like to present to you our position regarding the problems surrounding linguistic, cultural, and national level specifics burdening the citizens of our country.
Mr. Prime Minister, we believe that the nonobjective presentation of information on national minority issues before the political world, but also before ordinary Greek people, results in a clash caused by alternatives of the first party and anti-reactions of the second one. Consequently it originates mistakes and panic. Naturally, it is not easy for anyone in Greece to speak on 'taboo' topics, such as the issue of distinction between national identities of the citizens of our country. This is very difficult especially because the national mythology imposed national homogenization as an essential element of unity in the country. Almost all European societies in last centuries formed national states.
However, Mr. Simitis, we believe you would agree that modernizing the Greek society would condition certain different approaches towards the issues of honoring and guaranteeing minority rights of some citizens, affecting implemented policies and past approaches. This becomes a stronger imperative with European unification processes. We hope the final result would be the 'post-national' model of organizing a society, far from national antagonisms and prejudice.
Mr. Prime Minister, we already speak of a civilian Europe and we believe Balkan societies who head towards the European perspective, should overcome the 'childhood diseases' of national emancipation as painlessly as possible, following the positive examples of Western societies. We of Macedonian ethnic affiliation, citizens of Greece and of the European Union, feel that we should be the most expeditious of Balkan people to make the historic leap and overcome the syndrome of 'ethnicity' now that a sovereign and independent Republic of Macedonia is a reality. In doing so we wish to help the societies we belong to in parallel, as active citizens on the road of European integration. However, all of this is stipulated by recognizing and respecting the special Macedonian identity by the Greek State.
The issue of Macedonian political refugees, special Macedonian language, equal and authentic development of nurturing Macedonian culture and each various culture as well, rehabilitating injustices caused by past political choices must be considered and solved with dialogue and reason.
We believe the language issue with Macedonian ethnic minorities in Greece to be an issue about which not only fruitful dialogue can be conducted, but also specific measures can be made in accordance to a policy of preserving and fostering the Macedonian language. Just as the Greek language should have a special place in the 'large' multicultural and multi-language mosaic of European languages, that is how the Macedonian language must have its special place in the 'small' - compared to the European, naturally - Greek world of multi-ethnic and multi-language Greek reality.
With regard to everything stated above, we would like you, as a political subject participating in the political stage of Greece today, to consider the following requests:
- Recognition of the Macedonian language as an official language of minorities in Greece.
- Implementation of the Macedonian literary language in the educational system of Greece, specifically in elementary and secondary education, and parallel with it, the opening of Macedonian language cathedra for university education.
- Establishing the Macedonian language in the government controlled mass media (radio/television) programs with set daily programs that would be broadcast in those areas where the language is spoken.
This is where we would like to point out that we oppose any attempt of a parallel education system (both in Macedonian and Greek) as certain other Balkan minority groups demand. We honor and believe that 'national minorities policies in the Balkans and elsewhere should be such that they would eliminate the fear that people living in that country might have, of gradually changing existing state borders, concealed by demands of national minority rights.' The request of establishing a parallel educational system might be interpreted as such and this is why we reject it.
We support the above-stated requests bearing in mind that the use of the Macedonian language in Greece in the past and today is a reality. The fact that the language is spoken in all everyday-life activities is evidence that those who speak it not only wish to preserve it, but to nurture it as well. We believe that you will agree with the fact that those requests are supported if not by all who speak it, then by all who support RAINBOW (VINOZHITO) and the political activities it undertakes such as election activities. As one example we would like to remind that during the elections for the European Parliament in June 1994, RAINBOW (VINOZITO) received (as officially printed by the Greek Ministry of Internal Affairs) 7 236 votes, proportionally about 10 000 people. Is this not sufficient evidence for our requests?
On behalf of the Central Council of RAINBOW (VINOZHITO),
the members of the Political Secretariat,
- Anastasiadis Stavros
- Papadimitriou Dimitrios
- Sakellaris Nikos
- Konstantinou Georgios
- Voskopoulos Pavlos
* In addition to the Prime Minister of Greece this letter has been sent to:
European Parliament Chairman, Mr. Jose Maria Gil-Robles Gil Delgado and Chairman of the European Commission Mr. Jacques Santer