Greek Helsinki Monitor
Home of Macedonian Culture
Rainbow - Organization of the Macedonian Minority in Greece
Minority Rights Group - Greece
NGOs CONDEMN GREEK GOVERNMENT'S DEFAMATORY ATTEMPT
TO DEMONIZE MACEDONIAN MINORITY ACTIVISTS
AT OSCE IMPLEMENTATION MEETING IN WARSAW
25 October 2000
The Greece-based NGOs present in today's Session 11 of the OSCE Implementation Meeting in Warsaw, "Greek Helsinki Monitor," "Home of Macedonian Culture," "Rainbow - Organization of the Macedonian Minority in Greece," and "Minority Rights Group - Greece" condemn the Greek delegation's defamatory attempt to demonize Macedonian minority activists.
Greece gave a reply to, as they said, "groups identifying themselves as ethnic Macedonians." It concluded with an explanation of the reason why Slavko Mangovski, an American citizen, an editor of a Skopje-based Macedonian weekly, and a well-known activist for the rights of Macedonian minorities in the region, was refused entry in Greece in late August 2000. According to the Greek delegation, he was presumed to "come in order to meet with Macedonian activists, many of whom promote policies of open secession of a part of Greek territory," hence he is placed on the list of "undesirable" persons.
First, even if that were true, it would violate freedom of movement and freedom of expression. It would also be a call for all countries in the region to ban entry of critical journalists on similar, arbitrarily defined, grounds. We know of many politicians and journalists from Southern Balkan countries, who have irredentist views and frequently visit their neighbors, and we hope they will continue to do so, even if we disagree with such views.
Secondly, Mr. Mangovski had repeatedly visited Greece in recent years, including earlier on in 2000. We challenge the Greek authorities to provide even one piece of evidence that Mr. Mangovski had previously engaged in separatist activities during his many visits, so as to justify their decision to put him on the "blacklist," for the first time, in late August 2000.
Thirdly and most importantly, it is well known to anyone living in the area inhabited by the Macedonian minority in Greece, and to Greek authorities, that no activist from any organization has ever promoted secessionism. On the contrary, the diplomat who spoke for the Greek delegation today, was a guest, on behalf of his Ministry, in the special meeting our NGOs had organized for the OSCE HCNM in October 1999 in Athens. During that meeting, representatives from the Macedonian and Turkish minorities, responding to an OSCE HCNM question, categorically condemned not only secession but also autonomy as possible solutions to the many problems the two minorities face. These statements were subsequently published widely and have since been available in the Internet sites of our NGOs, and many other ones. "Rainbow"'s related statement following that meeting is appended below (emphasis added).
Consequently, Greece's decision to brand any of the Macedonian activists as "separatists" is an intentional defamatory distortion of truth and a desperate but futile effort to discredit human rights defenders, in violation of all international norms. Greece "arrogantly" refuses to deal with the Macedonians' demands, that have been acknowledged in a supportive way even in this year's ECRI's "Second Report of Greece." As Greece-based NGOs, we can only regret that a country that boasts of being "the cradle of democracy" resorts to such authoritarian methods. Our NGOs intend to take up this issue to all international institutions, including the OSCE HCNM, the newly appointed UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders, and the UN CERD, which is reviewing Greece in its next meeting, in January 2001.