HISTORIC MEETING WITH
HIGH COMMISSIONER OF THE OSCE
(October 8, 1999)
Max van der Stoel
OSCE High Commissioner
on National Minorities
On October 8, 1999, in Athens, representatives of RAINBOW met with Max van der Stoel, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, and his advisor, Mr. John Packer.
In the two-hour meeting the position of the national minorities in Greece (Macedonian and Turkish) was reviewed as well as the lack of respect of the rights of these minorities by the Greek state. The Rainbow representatives stressed that this behavior by the Greek state is incomprehensible considering that Rainbow, as an organization of the Macedonian national minority, in its activities for the realization of the national rights of the Macedonians in Greece, always declared (and behaved in the same way) that it respects the territorial integrity of the Greek state and condemns all kinds of autonomist and separatist solutions. In the meeting it was underlined that not only the national rights of the Macedonians are not respected but also Rainbow's appeals to the Greek political forces for the start of a dialog on minority questions are ignored. Lack of respect for the OSCE and UN human rights standards was stressed in the meeting as well as the need for ratification of the "Convention for the Rights of the Minorities of the Council of Europe" without further limiting clauses that could restrict the rights of the national minorities in Greece during the implementation of the Convention.
Also present in the meeting were representatives of the Turkish national minority, representatives of Greek NGOs, institutions for human rights protection as well as representative of the Liberal Party (Fililefteri) and the Synaspismos Party.
Rainbow declares this to be the first meeting between representatives of the Macedonian national minority and the High Commissioner of OSCE on Greek territory. We believe that this event will finally open the road towards a realistic approach of the problems of respect of the rights of the Macedonians in Greece by the Greek Government.